Haley Barbour is the GOP’s leading candidate in 2012—for vice president.

When Gov. Mark Sanford’s political future imploded in June, he let down an important constituency. Never mind the people of South Carolina: The Republican Governors Association, of which Sanford was chairman, had to scramble—and within an hour it had announced that Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi and pol-about-town, would take Sanford’s place. Barbour, as so often for the Republican Party, was pleased to serve.

Now speculation has already begun over whether Barbour will run for president in 2012. (It’s hard to tell whether these reports stem from pundits desperate for a column or Republicans desperate for leader.) Regardless of whether this speculation is accurate—and Barbour isn’t exactly batting it down—it’s not quite right. The place for Barbour on the GOP’s 2012 ticket is the bottom, not the top.
Barbour is the GOP’s Mr. Fix-It. Sixteen years ago, when the party was in a similar position—booted out of the White House, out of money, and ideologically incoherent—he was elected to run the Republican National Committee, promising strong executive leadership to rebuild the party. In his first two years, he bailed out the nearly bankrupt National Republican Campaign Committee while cajoling, strategizing, fundraising, and bullying fractious Republicans back into the majority. Newt Gingrich was the bullhorn of the 1994 Republican revolution, but Barbour was the guy who paid for the bullhorn.

Slate
8/6/9