Is Haley Barbour Taking Sides In the Presidential Contest?

Bookmark and Share  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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Is It Too Late?

Some very wise political analysts wrote that things have changed since 1992 when Bill Clinton got into the race late and managed to win. The need to build a national campaign network, raise money and meet the demands of 24/7 campaigning without making a single mistake are hurdles that put late joiners at a serious disadvantage. Mitt Romney has been raising money, performing in debates, bringing in endorsements and satisfying local political committees necessary for the early primaries. He can do it because he has a network in place to do most of the work for him, leaving him free to focus on interviews, debate prep and meeting with the big donors. Gov. Perry, as a relative late-comer, is floundering by comparison. The overwhelming demands on his time in places he has no network and from people with whom he has no intermediaries have strained his ability to focus on improving his debate abilities. His big lead has slumped and he is at risk of simply fading away. By the time he gets a full national campaign in place, his mistakes may have made him irrelevant. Soon Herman Cain will face the same problems. These were the reasons various pundits said Christie should definitely not get into the race. It was too late, even if he had changed his mind.

But is it too late? Being in early and ahead in the polls is no guarantee of success. The pages of campaign history are littered with the failed campaigns of big names, with national support and early planning. Perhaps the right question is not whether it is too late, but rather is it too soon? It is clearly too late to get into the race and compete against the established campaigns. There is not enough time to get a national campaign up and running effectively between now and the early primaries while simultaneously engaging in frequent televised debates. But, that doesn’t mean it is too late to get into the race at all. It just means it is too early to be a late entrant.

Look at the poll numbers Perry pulled in just due to hype. Christie saw the same, although he ended up not running. Cain made one great debate appearance and his numbers shot up. However, Perry and Cain now have to find a way to sustain that popularity for months before it can translate into votes. Just ask Michele Bachmann how that straw poll victory is treating her now. Frankly, getting in early opens the door to constant attacks by a vengeful media and the inevitable mistake that will get blown out of proportion just to have a news story to report. Romney and Paul are somewhat immune to these problems because they were already attacked in the last election and there just isn’t much new to attack them with. Their names are already out there and they have a base of support in place, so they don’t need the big performance to gain a position in the rankings. They just need to not trip over themselves and wait it out until the primaries get closer and they start spending the piles of money they built up. Everyone else has an uphill battle and has as much to fear from sudden success as from a major mistake.

With so many primaries happening so close together and so early in the year, a late entrant could ride the newcomer media hype to a handful of early victories. Then, by absorbing the staff and network of candidates who are forced to drop out, basically walk into a national campaign with enough time remaining to still effectively raise funds for the general election in November. This would not work for just any random candidate, but there are some big names who stayed out who have the skills, policy knowledge and connections to pull it off if they time it right. A December entry could steal the nomination.

I’m not saying that is what should happen, will happen or would be desirable. It is just that the old logic that there is a time after which a new campaign cannot succeed is very likely no longer valid. Like it or not, the media does manipulate public opinion in elections. Playing the media against itself may be a better strategy than traditional campaigning. After all, then Sen. Obama had nothing to offer on policy or experience, but the media carried him to victory. The media may be generally against conservatives, but they just can’t help themselves from hyping anyone new. Even if the hype is full of negatives, it raises the recognition of that candidate and usually results in a rise in the polls – at least until the hype dies down or the candidate withers under the spotlight.

A well-timed late entrant would face significant challenges, but could play the media hype into a surge in the polls just in time for it to translate into real votes. I’m sure Rick Perry wishes the early primaries had been in August when he was the talk of the town. Had they been, he’d probably be in this against Romney alone instead of falling back into a still crowded pack. The lack of consensus on a candidate and the infighting between them during the debates could be justification enough for one of the big names that decided not to run many months ago (when Obama looked stronger) to reconsider and come in to ‘unify the party against Obama’. While such an entry would never work if it came this month or in November, it could potentially play in December – especially if the field doesn’t slim down between now and then.

Second Thoughts?Who could pull off this last minute capture of the early primaries and the nomination? There are two that immediately come to mind: Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Conversely, two names that couldn’t pull it off are Sarah Palin and Chris Christie. They both bowed out too recently to change their minds so soon. Barbour and Daniels could be ‘drafted’ back in if they plan such an effort. They are not the only ones, but the ones with the best name recognition (Daniels) and existing connections (Barbour) to generate the necessary media hype and channel it into sudden victories. With the voters still divided, no real excitement for the ‘inevitable candidate’ and a compressed primary schedule, there may never be a better time than December to capture the race without having to face the withering pressure of public scrutiny of every minor decision they ever made. With so many of the big names that got out early still sitting silently and not endorsing anyone, one has to wonder if they are pondering the same thing I am. But, only one could pull it off. If two jumped in, they would both lose. If Barbour and Daniels go to dinner, Romney should start to worry.

Haley Barbour Says Mitt Romney is “Less Conservative than Most Republicans”

 Bookmark and Share  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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The Pomposity of the New York Times’ Nate Silver

Bookmark and Share Wow. I believe pompous arrogance would be the most fitting way to characterize Nate. Silvers recent analysis entitled On The Largely Irrelevant News About Haley Barbour Not Running for President.

First of all, for Mr. Silver to characterize Haley Barbours decision not to run for the Republican presidential nomination as irrelevant, is mind numbingly ignorant. The Barbour decision is one of the most important decisions to have been made regarding the 2012 presidential election to date. As noted in White House 2012, Governor Barbours decision not to run, has freed up many supporters and much money. Furthermore; whether Silver wants to deny it or not, that decisions has increased the chances that one of the top tier Republican presidential contenders, Governor Mitch Daniels, will run. This is far from irrelevant.

But beyond this, Mr. Silver takes it upon himself to bestow great credit to himself for never having given much thought or ink to the possibility of a Haley Barbour presidential candidacy. This is not something which I believe he deserves either personal or public credit for. Perhaps part of the reason as to why Silver did not take the potential candidacy of Governor Haley Barbour seriously was because he is utterly blind to the art of political campaigning and its powerful ability to overcome some negative perceptions, and to accentuate positive ones. Perhaps another reason is because Mr. Silvers liberal biases do not allow his mind to be as open as he would have us believe.

Haley Barbour is conservative, a point that I am sure did not go unnoticed by the New York Times Nate Silver. And it is that point which more than likely accounted for his tendency to not take Barbours potential candidacy seriously.

The fact of the matter is that for Mr. Silver to give himself a Super Bowl ring for Monday morning quarterbacking a game that has not yet even begun, is a bit silly. For him to imply thepossesion ofsome greater political instinct or knowledge than others, including Jonathon Martin of Politic, simply because he had not given much ink to the possibility of a Barbour presidential candidacy, is utterly ridiculous.

Two days prior to Governor Barbours announcement, I made my own assessment here in White House 2012 and in it I questioned the certainty of a Barbour presidential campaign. The accuracy of that post did not give me license to arrogantly discount the opinions of others and claim or imply that I have shrewder political instincts than George Will, Charles Krauthammer or Jonathon Martin.

The truth is that Mr. Silver may not have wanted to advertise the possibilities that existed within a Barbour candidacy, but that didnt make him any more correct than those who refused to deny those possibilities. While Barbour had several obvious handicaps, most of which White House 2012 acknowledged, he also had the capacity to rise above them. His fundraising ability is almost unmatched, his organization reach and ability was endless, and his record, policies and vision were more than powerful enough to build a credible candidacy on. But Mr. Silver claims he never believed so, so he deserves credit.

Credit for what? Denying the potential that existed? I dont think so.

Although I tend to believe that Haley Barbour and his family, decided against a run for President because of the obstacles, I do not believe the decision was reached because they concluded that they could not overcome the obstacles. I believe they decided not to run because they did not know exactly how committed they were to insuring that they overcame those obstacles. It is that uncertainty of commitment that Haley Barbour cited as the reason for deciding not to run. Yet in his analysis, Nate Silver suggests that his colleagues would be best advised to not take what those they write about so literally. I suggest that Mr. Silver listen to what those he writes about have to say and instead of automatically discounting the truth in what they say, perhaps he should first be open to thepossibility of thetruth.

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Haley Barbour Will Not Be a Candidate for President

Haley Barbour

Barbour Out

Bookmark and Share In what is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions to date that has been made in the evolving Republican presidential nomination contest, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has today issued a statement announcing that he will not be a candidate for President in 2012. Barbour credits his decision to an uncertainty about the “fire in the belly” that he has for the job of President. He notes that the job requires a ten year committment “to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else.” He adds that his supporters deserve no less and without complete certainty for such a committment on his, he can not persue it in good conscience. (see complete statement below this post)

The announcement frees up much of the money and support that up to now how his by tied up by the possibility of a Barbour candidacy. As the ultimate political insider, Barbour’s ties to the G.O.P. establishment has helped to keep many from picking sides in the evolving race and fromplacing money behind any of the emerging candidacies.

WhileBarbour’s potential run has done little to keep any wiling Republicansfrom getting in to the race,this announcement will have a profound effect on Mitch Daniels, the popular, term limited Governor of Indiana.

Governors Daniels and Barbour are close personal friends. The two men go way back to the days of the Reagan Administration. With Barbour out, the chances that Daniels is in has increased ten fold.

Daniels has proven himself to be aneffective and exemplary conservative leader but his greatest quality is his prowess with numbers and budgets and conservative economics. He is a budget guru whois the total anti-Obama and a perfect potential Republican nominee. But Daniels has not been eager to declare his own candidacy. Instead he insisted that he is serious considering it and will essentiallymake who is or isn’t running, the determining factor. According to Daniels, if the right leadershipwith the right solutions to the greatest problems facing this nation, do not present themseleves, than he will be inclined to run. With his friend Haley now out of the race and out of the way, Daniels is free to decide that the right leadership has not yet presented itself in the emerging Republican field, and so he will in fact run.

In a recent post, I concluded that even if Haley Barbour runs, Mitch Daniels will too. The fact that Barbour is not running, makes it much more likely that Daniels will. According to Governor Daniels, that decision will come soon after the Indiana concludes its legislative session.

As for exactly why Haley Barbour has decided agaisnt his presidential bid,it is not likely that he doesn’t have the “fire in the belly” when it comes to the presidency. Barbour is a political animal who thrives on politics, both the campaining and the legislative and policy back and forth. Part of the decision has more to do with the lack of traction that his potential candidacy has been gaining. Despite aggressive behind the scenes campaigning especially in South Carolina and Forida, the Governor has not been racking up substantial support and his poll numbers have been unable to break the low single digits. As such, Barbour is most likely telling the truth when he calims he is uncertain about just how committed he is to a campaign. For while Barbour certainly has obsatcles in between him and the White House, they are not insurmountable. But Haley Barbour and his family have probably concluded that they may not have the desire to work as hard as it might require to overcome them.

Haley Barbour’s Statement

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.

“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor of Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”

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Expect Mitch Daniels to Run for President

Bookmark and Share Like the countdown to a space shuttle liftoff, the month of April has been ticking down to the launch or aborted missions of several different Republican presidential candidacies. The most notable are Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and soon to be former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr.. Both Daniels and Barbour have promised to make their decision some time by the end of April. Gingrich has recently suggested a similar timeline and Jon Huntsman who cant legally make an announcement while still serving as an Ambassador is likely to make his intentions known shortly after his April 30th resignation takes effect.

I predict that at least three of these men will be declaring their candidacy.

While that is not a bold prediction insofar as Gingrich and Huntsman go, it is a bit of a stretch to be so definitive about Barbour and even more so concerning Mitch Daniels.

As for Huntsman and Gingrich, the secret is out. Gingrich has done little to keep his intentions hush and as soon as Huntsman announced that he was resigning from his post as the nations chief envoy to China, we all pretty much knew that he was going to act on his already stated intention to look at a run for president in 2012. In the case of Barbour, his intentions have been quite clear, but so have his hurdles to a successful run for both the Republican presidential nomination and the presidency itself. His history as a very successful lobbyist, the oozing of some unfair Southern stereotypes, combined with a few early verbal gaffes on race, and his reputation as the ultimate political insider, pose the potential Barbour campaign with some obvious questions that they have had to figure whether or not they can overcome.

In an attempt to do so, Barbour has been lighting up switchboards from California, to Florida and South Carolina, as he tests the waters. He has even politely suggested that potential supporters hold their powder, and their money, until he makes a decision. Given the extent of Barbours effort so far, I tend to believe that he has the fire in the belly that gives one presidential fever, a fever that has to be fed in order for it break. So I expect that hemaysoonannopunce the creation of his presidential exploratory committee. This will be for two purposes. One is to confirm both how much fire really is in his belly and how amenable his wife is to the idea, and two, to see that if it is at all possible for the fire in his belly to be quite enough to win the White House. As for Mitch Daniels, I am going completely out a very shaky limb when I say that he will be running.

Accept for the talk of others, Mitch Daniels has done little if anything to appear like a potential Republican presidential candidate. And while he has taken advantage of a few high-profile speaking engagements, such events are in many ways only natural for a highly successful, two term governor. At the same time, it has been no secret that like Haley Barbours wife, Mitch Daniels wife Cheri is not thrilled by the prospects of having to endure an invasive and inevitably harsh presidential campaign. So there is really very little to support my conclusion that Mitch Daniels will run.

Except for three things.

The lovely Mrs. Cheri Daniels

First is Cheri Daniels. While she is not a fan of the spotlight and is not excited about the possibility of having to join her husband on the presidential campaign trail, in this, Daniels last year as Governor of Indiana, Cheri has agreed to be the main speaker at a Republican State Party dinner. That is not exactly the sign of a spouse preparing to fade in to the obscurity of private life. It sounds to me more like an introduction of both her to the people, and of Cheri to the spotlight.

Another event having me lean more towards a Daniels run, than against it, is the timing of a major speech on education that the Governor is slated to give in Washington, D.C. at the American Institute. This event is five days after the Indiana state legislative session is scheduled to conclude. Daniels has promised to announce his decision regarding the presidency when that sessionis over. It is here that I do not expect Daniels to announce that he is running, but rather the start of either his exploratory committee or the very soon date to come when he will make a similar announcement.

The final reason I have for believing that Mitch Daniels is in fact running for President has to do with his dragging the question out. Mitch Daniels is an understated man. He is not about the drama. He is a nuts and bolts guy and he had nothing to gain by dragging out the possibility of a presidential candidacy. His whole reason for not announcing his interest in running was due to state politics. Daniels did not want the left to accuse the him of advancing policies that were good for his presidential aspirations but bad for the state. And if Governor Daniels would have been able to get rid of that suspicion altogether by announcing that he was not running for President, he would have done that long ago.

There are of course some caveats.

I do not yet sense that Mitch Daniels has the same fire in the belly that his longtime close friend Haley Barbour does. For that reason, I am suspicious of there beingsome friendly teamwork going here. As I described in a previous White House 2012 post entitled Is a Barbour/Daniels Ticket in the Works? , Daniels could become a candidate in order to help divide the vote outside of the South, between himself, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney. This split would allow Barbour to fare better outside of the South where he does not do so well. It would also help keep Mitt Romney from racking up big numbers. In that scenario, Daniels would eventually drop out of the race and try to swing his delegates over to Haley Barbour.

This may sound too Machiavellian to some but this is the big time. It is politics at the highest level and few know how to play politics better than the ultimate political insider, Haley Barbour. That combined with a well established, longstanding friendship between Barbour, Daniels and their families, makes this not quite as far-fetched as some might be inclined to think.

I for one hope that isnt the case. As someone who in 2008, supported Mitt Romney for President, was a part of the Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President movement, and is currently torn between them Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels and Newt Gingrich, I am looking forward to a genuine battle for my support. I am hoping for a contest that will force the eventual nominee to have to truly earn the nomination and allow us to discover who truly represents our conservative values best, can advance them the most, and is most capable of applying them to the practical application of government. I believe all of the above mentioned names are candidates who can do that. The question is, which one can do all three the best? It is my deepest wish to find that out through a well fought contest, that publicly tests all these skills among all the candidates.

But before that process begins, I expect this final week in April to be slow, in the sense of it being a slow build up to a very busy May.

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Haley Barbour Finally Wins a Straw Poll

Bookmark and Share Iowa, New Hampshire, California, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and countless other local county and statewide straw polls have been held and in them Haley Barbour has found himself in the back of the pack with numbers in the lower single digits. But Barbour has hardly been to many of the places where these straw polls were held. Except in South, where Barbours strength should be. There, the Mississippi Governor has blitzkrieged Florida and South Carolina with visits and phone calls to state legislative and Party leaders.

Yet last week, at a county convention in South Carolina, despite being one of only three potential candidates to personal speak at the event, Barbour again lost their political beauty contest. However; this past Friday night Barbour finally racked up a victory for himself. In a straw poll at a Republican County Convention in Charleston, South Carolina, Haley Barbour placed first with 22% of the vote. Far behind him was Mitt Romney with 12%. In third place with 11 percent was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won another straw poll last weekend in socially conservative Greenville County. The rest of the field was as follows; Donald Trump, 10%, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tied at nine percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain tied at six percent, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took five percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton were in the back of the pack after scraping together only a few scattered votes.

Barbour was the only candidate to speak before those in attendance at the County convention. The Governor addressed the event during a two day swing of the state. While the win does not have any real impact on the shaping Republican presidential race, it does have implications that matter. Barbour has been running a Southern strategy and if his candidacy is to have any legs during the primary and caucus season, South Carolina is a must win for Barbour. It is a prelude to the delegate rich state of Florida which follows South Carolina but precedes the rest of the South, the region that should be strongest for Barbour. The Governor himself has been quoted as saying If I run I am going to run to win South Carolina. To win South Carolina in my opinion means winning the low country.

So winning this particular straw poll was quite a symbolic step in the right direction for Haley Barbour, one of the first steps in that direction, that we have seen yet.

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