The Case for Haley Barbour in the 2012 Presidential Race

Cameron Lynch is a former aide to three U.S. senators and president of the Lynch Group–a Republican government affairs and political consulting firm. He is not currently affiliated with any individual contemplating a run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Spend a few minutes with GOP politicos these days and the dialogue inevitably shifts to the subject of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The great majority of these conversations follow a predictable script: “Romney is the front-runner, but can he maintain momentum? Pawlenty is a really nice guy, but is he presidential timber? What the hell is Sarah Palin going to do?”

The analogous nature of these discussions made a recent dinner with a veteran GOP operative all the more interesting. When we turned to the inevitable topic, he looked me straight in the eye and unwaveringly proclaimed: “Haley is my candidate.”

Haley Barbour, the second-term governor of Mississippi, may, at first blush, seem like the last man the GOP should choose to take on Barack Obama in 2012. Barbour is a (very) southern, white, former tobacco lobbyist and is considered by many to be the consummate Washington insider. As RNC chairman in 1994, Barbour executed the historic Republican takeover of Congress. Many Republican icons, from Newt Gingrich to George W. Bush, partially credit their political success to Barbour’s efforts as party head. He is also the founder of one of the most influential Republican lobbying firms on K Street. The firm that still brandishes his name on its letterhead.

U.S. News and World Report
3/30/10