Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was in Iowa in mid-February. He came back on the Ides of March (that would be March 15) to visit with a few groups and individuals in Des Moines before trekking over to Iowa’s east coast. He’s the headliner tonight for an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser in Davenport.
Barbour explained earlier today that his primary goal in Iowa is to explain to Iowans “what a Haley Barbour is.”
Barbour was the “host” of the luncheon for the Iowa Federation of Republican Women meeting at the statehouse in Des Moines, which means he bought lunch. He joked the sandwiches, chips, cookies and Pepsi products proved he was a conservative “because lunch was so cheap.”
After repeating the line that he’s “seriously thinking about running for president,” Barbour said Iowa would be a key state in his campaign — if there is one. “I also know from my own state that if you want to win,you need the Republican Women,” he said, to applause from the Republican Women. “You need ’em fully involved, energized and leading the team and so that’s why I wanted to get a chance to meet some of you,”
Barbour is in full-on meetin’ and greetin’ mode, and he’s conjuring up images of southern governors of the past who’ve gone on to win the presidency to buttress his electability argument. “I start off with hardly any Americans who really know me. There are some political leaders, some elected officials, some reporters, but the average American has no reason to have ever heard of Haley Barbour,” the governor said during an interview with Radio Iowa.
“Is that an advantage in a year when people like Sarah Palin are well known and people have already formed opinions?” I asked.
“I tend to look at it more like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton,” Barbour replied. “At this time and the year before each of them was elected president, nobody ever heard of them either.”
“And they both have southern accents,” I added.
Barbour smiled. “And they were both southern governors,” he said.
Barbour will be governor of Mississippi through the end of the year, which his second term ends. Mississippi has term limits, so he cannot seek reeleciton. Barbour has indicated he’ll announce in April whether he plans to run for president.