Haley Barbour is one of the Republican Party’s most beneficial strategic leaders. As the Governor of Mississippi, he also proved to be an effective and savvy executive leader. As for his Party involvement, Barbour has been brilliant. He led the G.O.P. as its Chairman when Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress in 1992, oversaw the successful election of a majority of Republican Governors in 2010 when he was Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is a prolific fundraiser, and has a network of connections in the Party and government that is unparalled. All of this gives reason for some to still wonder if he might jump in and run for President , even though he opted out of run several monmths ago.
While that is unlikely, who Haley Barbour does support for the Republican presidential nomination will be almost as important as if he ran for President himself.
That is why his recent remarks on the Laura Ingraham Show have many people raising their heads.
Barbour described rising star Herman Cain by saying, “He is likable” .
He then went on to say;
“He [Herman Cain], does not give you the impression that he is full of himself, but rather than he is a straight-talkin’ person who, will tell you, he call it like he sees them. He’s not trying to sugar coat anything and at the same time he is not trying to be shrill and a chest beater. He’s a straight talker and I think that makes him very, very attractive to people.”
Barbour then went even further and said of Cain;
“If Herman Cain is our nominee against Barack Obama, I think he’ll sweep the South.”
At another point he added that if the election wereheld today, his wife would vote for Herman Cain.
As laid out in this Talking Point Memo by Benjy Sarlin , Barbour’s high praise of Cain is a significant contrast to his less then enthusiastic referrences and descriptions of Mitt Romney and even Rick Perry, two men Barbour worked closely with when he was Chairman of the RGA. TPM even refers to a White House 2012 post and video in which Barbour states “Mitt is less conservative than most Republicans.”
None of this is good news for Romney, who could really use some help in the South, where Barbour has a great deal of influence, particulary in the state he governms, and nearby Georgia and Florida. A Barbour endorsement of Romney, would be a hinderance to Rick Perry and give Romney much more of a fighting chance for wins in Southern primaries. But based upon multiple comments Barbour has made, an endorsement of Romney before the GOP settles on a nominee, is probably not in the forecast. It could go to Rick Perry, but even that is now questionable.
All of this helps to make it seem that with many Republicans not totally sold on Romney, and with Perry unable to yet get his footing after stumbling in his second debate appearance, even the establishment might be willing to back Herman Cain. I recently went out on a limb suggesting that a surprise endorsement of Herman Cain from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley could be possible. If the two Haley’s (Haley Barbour and Nikki Haley), happen to endorse Cain, it is quite possible that people will be talking about him being the presumptive nominee and not Mitt Romney.
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