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Barbour To Iowa

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is heading to Iowa. AP
Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will make a trip to Iowa in late June, a visit sure to stoke talk of a potential 2012 bid by the Magnolia State Republican.

Barbour will headline a Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser on June 25, according to a report on the Iowa Republican blog.

Barbour's decision to travel to the Hawkeye State indicates that rumbles that he has not ruled out a presidential bid in 2012 are justified.

Barbour allies insist that this trip is one of many he will make to states with competitive gubernatorial races in 2010 and nothing more should be read into it.

No matter what Barbour or his people say about the trip, however, always remember the Fix mantra about presidential politics: No politician -- we can't emphasize that strongly enough -- goes to Iowa by accident. Doesn't happen.

Barbour is widely seen as one of the most able -- if not the most able -- political strategist within the party and is being looked to in the wake of two straight devastating electoral defeats as the man with a plan to bring Republicans back from the brink of powerless minority status.

He will assume even more powerful role in 2010 when he assumes the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association with 37 governors races on the ballot.

The sticking point for Barbour when it comes to national office is his long history as a Washington lobbyist before he was elected governor in 2003. A matchup between Barbour and President Obama, who ran, at least in part, on his belief that lobbyists have gummed up the works in Washington, doesn't seem to provide the right optics for the Republican Party.

And, Barbour's geographic roots in the South don't help his cause either. The south is the last solidly Republican region in the country and many GOP strategists believe that the only way to grow the party again is to find a nominee in 2012 outside of the South.

Still, Barbour's trip to Iowa -- no matter what his real intentions are -- will make him the latest subject of the chattering class in search of a new fresh face (can that be Haley?) with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman now off the field.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 21, 2009; 3:41 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012  
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If Obama doesn't win in a Johnson-Nixon-Reagan 64-72-84 style blowout in '12, it'll be his own damn fault.

Posted by: Route1 | May 23, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Not at all a surprise, but 2012 just got hella interesting. What, Piyush Bobby isn't the answer? I thought he was the answer.

Posted by: Route1 | May 23, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

There are sixteen states where Barbour has some potential as a GOP candidate for president.

Mr. Barbour will definitely lose by wide margins in the remaining 34 states.

His home state, Mississippi, has been one of the most backward states for generations. It continues to be the poorest of the poor among states dependent upon Federal aid for survival. There are no prospects for the governor of Missippi, whomever, he/she might be, to become president of the United States in my lifetime. It simply will not happen.

Posted by: dickhealy | May 22, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Barbour is a standard-issue across-the-board establishment conservative, but not a far-right loony toon like Palin, Sanford, Cheney. He's certainly no move-to-the-middle advocate with appeal to moderates like Hunstman or Crist. Barbour, however, is someone who can probably more effectively bridge the divides in the Republican Party than almost any other figure.

Since it is likely that the Republicans will be facing a huge uphill battle in 2012, and that Obama is highly likely to be reelected, nominating a figure like Barbour, though regionally exclusive, is one that would make sense in terms of bridging the differences within the party. The remaining high-roller, big-dollar donors in the Republican Party would likely be very happy as Barbour has always been beholden to industry----he's extremely pro-establishment big business, pro-executive. Very cozy with the business lobbyists because he used to be one of them.

They could nominate as VP a younger, more moderate figure, perhaps a Pawlenty, or Crist, who would be able to represent an effort to broaden the base. The really smart Republicans with a real future will be focused on 2016, not 2012. For someone like Barbour though, 2012 may represent the only real opportunity to win the nomination, even if it is likely to be a losing cause. Therefore he might be the second-most likely Republican nominee for 2012 (behind Romney, who is clearly the most likely nominee at this point).

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | May 22, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Barbour did a really good job of getting Miss back on its feet after Katrina but then he did have the backing of a Repub administration while Louisiana pols were sniping at each other and (rightfully so) the Bush administration. Can't wait to hear what the hard right has to say about him.

Posted by: rawreid | May 22, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

king_of_zouk wrote: "Rather than come up with any plan or pass any laws, obimbo blames bush and ducks for cover."

Can't even stay on topic, eh? What's up, Rush Limbaugh didn't feed you any talking points on Barbour?

Posted by: nodebris | May 22, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Everyone who wants to see the GOP go down should be trying to start another party to oppose the Democrats.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 22, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"What a contrast that would be, a race between Obama and Barbour. I can't think of anyone more than Barbour who personifies the current GOP image of being the Southern White Christian Party."

Posted by: bpai_99 | May 21, 2009 9:03 PM
John Weaver, wingman for McCain and Gov. Huntsman, is predicting an electoral "blowout" (his words) in 2012. All polls show the GOP is losing across all demographics except frequent church goers, i.e., old coots. Cheney-style fear mongering is their only hope. Huntsman after his Obama stint as Ambassador in China could be a force in 2016, though.
If C. Luther Powell switches parties on this Sunday's Face the Nation, the GOP is over as a national party.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 22, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Barbour probably wouldn't gain much traction in a general election, and he probably knows that. He has a base of support and he is very well connected from his days at the RNC, so he could certainly run a decent primary campaign, but that's not enough to make him President.

But, the chances are, whomever the Republicans choose for 2012 will lose. That's the way things go. Every time a party has gained the White House in the last hundred years it has held it for at least eight - with the sole exception of Jimmy Carter.

That is why it makes sense to look at 2012 and 2016 in different lights. It is likely to be a less competitive in 2012, but also gives you a slimmer chance of winning. It is the Bob Dole option. Run on decency and competence while hoping that the President's campaign implodes from a decline in the economy or a shock revelation about the President himself.

Occasionally, it works. All the heavyweight Democrats bowed out in 1991, when GHWB was at 90% approval ratings. Bill Clinton was from a rather obscure state. He probably would not have won a more competitive primary race against bigger names like Gore and Cuomo. Running against the incumbent in 1992 was a gamble, but waiting four years was probably not an option. And look how that worked out.

Posted by: qlangley | May 22, 2009 3:35 AM | Report abuse

Love it, love, love it.... ! The Southern Party should DEFINITELY have a Southern drawel.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | May 22, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Haley Barbour is another blight on our country.If anyone thinks this loser can do anything for the Republican party or the nation as a whole,he has lost his mind and his soul.A paradigm shift has taken place in this country that leaves little room for past-minded Republicans.There is nothing in his resume or in his soul that will serve the American people well.Scr** him and all of his cronies.

Posted by: klowry57 | May 21, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

What a contrast that would be, a race between Obama and Barbour. I can't think of anyone more than Barbour who personifies the current GOP image of being the Southern White Christian Party.

Posted by: bpai_99 | May 21, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Rather than come up with any plan or pass any laws, obimbo blames bush and ducks for cover.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 21, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

"Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will make a trip to Iowa in late June, a visit sure to stoke talk of a potential 2012 bid by the Magnolia State Republican."

Bid to be President of...Southwest Mississippi? Central Louisiana? Juneau?

Come on--this is web filler.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 21, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Cheney or obimbo. Fact or fluff? Responsibility or blame.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 21, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I've ever seen a picture of the man, but that's just what I imagined the governor of Mississippi to look like.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 21, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Just what the country needs - another angry old rich Republican white guy....NOT!

Posted by: DrainYou | May 21, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

He's a corporate bag man and reminds me of a cross between Boss Hogg and Fog Horn Leghorn.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | May 21, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The Black Parade (and I don't mean race).

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 21, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I think it's fairly obvious that the smart repubs (ie. Huntsman) are positioning themselves for 2016 and not 2012.

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 21, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Good God, Chris!

It's the 'Clash of the Titans' all over again: First Dick Cheney, then Newt Gingrich, and now Haley Barbour (you forgot to add, incidentally, he's the former head of the RNC--a fact that I'm sure won't be overlooked IF he's so clueless as to join the pack of 2012 candidates). Now all we need is Michelle Bachmann (if her doctors allow her to remain on the loose that long) and Glenn Beck as candidates!

You wrote that Barbour '...doesn't seem to provide the right optics for the Republican Party'. That is a staggering understatement--truly worthy of a Brit. Don't you think you're taking this Richard Wolfe imitation (re: HyperFix) just a wee bit too far?

Posted by: sverigegrabb | May 21, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, look. An old conservative affluent southern white guy. Never seen one of those in the Republican party before.

Posted by: thecorinthian | May 21, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Sure, sure, Barbour would have great traction in lots of states outside the south. You betcha!

Posted by: jasperanselm | May 21, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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