Riley Backs Barbour

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At a fund raising dinner for GOP candidates in Alabama on Tuesday evening, Gov. Bob Riley drew applause from the crowd when he plugged Haley Barbour for President. “It would be great to have a President who talks like we do,” said Riley. Earlier, Gov. Barbour spoke highly of Gov. Riley and the partnership they had as neighboring governors.

As of yet, neither man has officially announced an intention to run for President. There is little doubt that Barbour plans to run. The off-hand endorsement of Barbour by Riley signals that Riley doesn’t intend to run. That’s good news for Barbour and demonstrates the level of support he has gained from potential rivals. Other Governors and members of Congress who relied on support from Barbour through the Republican Governors Association and his original lobbying firm are likely to stand with him rather than run against him.

The typical watching of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina may not be meaningful when tracking Barbour’s plans. He’s expected to run. By the time we see an official announcement or even serious effort in those States, I’d expect Barbour to have done much behind the scenes. The winning over of potential rivals and the building of a coalition of support is far more practical for him than jumping into the fray like your average Presidential hopeful.

Chances are that Haley Barbour will be deservedly confident of victory before he ever makes an announcement. Statements of support like those made by Riley may seem like minor remarks, but they hint at the network of support Barbour has built and continues to build that will win him the nomination. Watching who he helps will tell more about his chances than watching where he campaigns. If he helps enough people, he won’t need to campaign.

A true leader sees many moves ahead and Haley Barbour is a true leader.

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