Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi and one-time chair of the Republican National Committee, is considering running for president in 2012, according to various reports. The popular Southerner has a long history as a Republican operative and elected official, from his days working as a strategist on Gerald Ford's presidential campaign in 1976 to his current chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association. Would he stand a chance against President Obama in 2012? (Watch highlights from Haley Barbour's recent speech at the SRLC)
He has the charm, wealth, and popularity to do it: Haley Barbour has plenty going for him, "Southern drawl and all," says Molly Parker in the Jackson, Miss., Clarion Ledger. He's a "growing presence on national TV talk shows," a "favorite at GOP events," and, as one Republican strategist put it, a "fundraising powerhouse who can 'charm the wallet out of a drunken Scotchman.'" He'd be a serious contender in 2012.
"Barbour takes GOP center stage"
Barbour could get nominated, but not elected: Haley Barbour would have a "formidable" chance of winning the GOP primary, says Jonathan Martin in Politico. But his "vulnerabilities" would have "Democratic oppo researchers salivating." Not only is he a "former corporate lobbyist with a roster of controversial clients," he "looks and sounds" like a Southern stereotype — a characteristic that will only be heightened by comparison with Obama.
"Barbour, advisers privately mull 2012 run"
Barbour's not an option... but who is? The Republicans will never nominate a "former big-time professional lobbyist" who "sounds like Foghorn Leghorn," says Ed Kilgore in Salon. But the party's other options aren't great either. Mitt Romney's health-care position hurts him, Mike Huckabee is "viscerally disliked," and Sarah Palin "can't win a general election in any political environment." Even if the GOP cleans up in the polls in November, there's still a hole where a presidential candidate should be.
"The Republicans' 2012 problem"