"Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is the most powerful Republican in American politics — at least for the next three months," say Jim Vandehei, Andy Barr, and Kenneth P. Vogel in Politico. Barbour, as head of the Republican Governors Association, has $40 million to spend on the 2010 elections — more than any other GOP leader — and he's considered an increasingly strong contender for his party's presidential nomination. Is Barbour emerging as the GOP hopeful to beat in the 2012 primaries? (Watch Barbour defend conservativism)

Republicans can't do better than Barbour: If there's one Republican we Democrats should worry about in "what is sure to be a tough re-election campaign in 2012, it is Haley Barbour," says Susan Estrich at Newsmax. He has "a unique blend of insider experience and outside appeal" no other Republican can beat.
"Watch out for Haley Barbour"

The Right-wingers certainly are crazy about him: Portly, "Southern-fried" Haley Barbour is a "deeply reactionary" former tobacco lobbyist, says Michael Tomasky in Britain's Guardian. The state he governs is "49th or 50th in everything" and he seems "perfectly happy about that." Despite — because of? — all that, the culture warriors on the right adore him. As a liberal, I hope that's enough to earn him the nomination, because he's far too radical to beat Obama.
"Operation Barbour-ossa"

Being a white Southerner won't help:
There's a lot for conservatives to like in Haley Barbour, says Matt Hadro at News Busters. But as one of his fans, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, says, the "optics" might not be right for the GOP to run him against President Obama. Democrats are experts at playing the race card, and liberal commentators would have a field day, Scarborough said, smearing Barbour "as a racist white man from the South running against the first black president."
"MSNBC's Joe Scarborough predicts 'certain networks' will 'maul' Haley Barbour if he runs in 2012"