Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour Likely Entry in 2012 Presidential Chase

November 20, 2009

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a longtime personal friend, was in Austin this week for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, which he chairs.  While in town, he was honored at a reception at the Barton Hills  home of Cindy Barnes where he mingled with fellow Rs, along with independent admirers.

A  visit with him rekindled memories of the 1980 presidental campaign, when he was the southern coordinator for candidate former Texas Governor John B. Connally. We recalled together the dark morning after Connally lost the South Carolina Republican primary, his last stand against soon-to-be-victor Ronald Reagan. I was on the plane with Connally from Columbia back to Houston when  Connally wearily said, “Well, we need to call Haley”. That was because the next week brought primaries that included Mississipi and Georgia, two states he was directing, and the Governor did not want to ask him and his allies to continue a lost cause. So he made the call and reluctantly pulled the plug. Always the pro, Haley understood. But even this week, he recalled that his Georgia coordinator was particularly upset, because they were confidant that Connally would have won that state.

A high respected Republican leader who once led the Republican National Committee, Governor Barbour gained high marks with his handling of the aftermath of Katrina in Mississippi. In his current role, he will collect chits from candidates across the country as he helps raise funds for their campaigns. To a question during the reception regarding his own presidental  aspirations,  he appropriately responded that he is focused on the 2010 elections, and his goal of gaining more R governors. But any of those new governor who win will  remember his help if he decides to make the run.  And don’t bet that he will not.

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