PRO: As with Bobby Jindal, the popular governor of Mississippi would perform an important function in turning the history of Hurricane Katrina from a big negative to a net positive for the national GOP. Barbour showed skill, fortitude and class in responding to the disaster — especially in comparison to the Democratic governor in neighboring Louisiana, Jindal’s hapless predecessor, Kathleen Blanco. He’s also a can-do, take-charge guy who provided take-no-prisoners leadership during service as chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time of the historic take-over of Congress in 1994. He’s a favorite of the GOP establishment, which remains decidedly cool toward McCain.
CON: Barbour’s history as a top D.C. lawyer, GOP insider and well-paid lobbyist undermines McCain’s theme of reform, and would provide an inviting target for Obama and company to talk about Republican seduction by K-Street lobbyists. His thick Mississippi roots (son of a Yazoo City lawyer with the wonderfully Faulknerian name of Jeptha Fowlkes Barbour Jr.) would do nothing to re-brand the Republican Party as less dependent on support and leadership from the states of the old Confederacy.