In a recent forum discussing political strategy for Republicans and President Obama in the 2012 presidential election, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour spoke about the need for the G.O.P. to make the election a referendum on President Obama’s employment and economic policies, while Democrats will have to try to portray the Republican Party as unacceptable or disqualified. Afterward, he answered questions from John Harris of Politico and the audience.
In one of those questions, Barbour was asked why Republicans seemed to be uninspired by the candidacy of Mitt Romney despite the fact that he seems to be the most electable candidate in the general election, especially among independent voters.
In his response, Governor Barbour began by stating;
“Mitt is less conservative than most Republicans”
He went on to explain that many Republicans remember Ronald Reagan so, in his words;
“they (Republicans) don’t accept the idea that nominating a moderate is the pathway to victory”
Governor Barbour added that there are a lot of soft Republicans and independents who vote Republican and want a more moderate nominee. He writes it off as a “process you just have to work through.”
Whether Barbour intended it or not, his opening statement will make for a perfect soundbite in a thirty-second commercial spot for any of Romney’s opponents such as Perry, Cain, Santorum, and Gingrich. Specifically in the South, where Romney will have some of his toughest primary challenges and where Haley Barbour, the Governor of Mississippi has significant influence. This is particularly the case in the important early, delegate rich primary state of Florida, where Barbour has significant sway.
Barbour who was himself almost candidate for for President, had been endorsed by Ohio Governor John Kasich, eleven days before Barbour decided not run. After that decision it was said that Barbour was prepared to join with Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in endorsing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels for President. But Daniels, a close friend of Barbour also declined to run for President.
Who Haley Barbour will endorse for the Republican presidential nomination now, is anyones guess. For the time being, it would seem that he is remaining neutral. But is Barbour’s description of Mitt Romney as “less conservative than most Republicans” a sign that Mitt is not on Haley’s short list?
If Mitt Romney hopes to avoid a long, drawn out nomination battle, he will need someone like Haley Barbour behind him. Barbour’s support could help Romney do well in the South, or at least better than expected. That is the only way to insure that none of his opponents come out of the Southern contests with enough steam and momentum to compete with Romney in the primaries and caucuses held outside of the South, where Romney should be the strongest. The question now is, will Haley Barbour be willing to endorse a Republican who “is less conservative than most Republicans” for President?
One thing to consider is this. If anyone has been listening to the candidates, not just reading the media’s interpretations of the candidates, they will find that Mitt Romney has not taken a single position that would indicate he is less conservative than any of the other candidates running. It comes down to this ……….. Is anyone listening and if they are, do they believe what Romney is saying?
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