Barbour speaks at King’s conference in Des Moines (audio)

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is the first “candidate” to speak to the crowd at Congressman Steve King’s conference today.

AUDIO: 18 min

“I am glad to be here,” he began, joking he’d been given a “fast, hard clock” to limit his remarks to 16 minutes & 48 seconds.  “(King) told me I was lucky to be doing this without an interpreter,” Barbour joked in his southern drawl, getting a laugh out of the audience.

Barbour suggested it was important to have a “narrow focus” in 2012. “For 2012 it is absolutely critical we elect a new POTUS and I want to say to you that I think the best way…perhaps the only way is for us to make sure the 2012 campaign is focused on policy…because the American people agree with us on policy,” Barbour said.

Next, Barbour asked if folks in the crowd were “old enough to remember Ed Sullivan.”  Then he told a story about an appearance Conrad Hilton, founder of the luxury hotel chain that bears his name.  Sullivan, according to Barbour, asked Hilton what the single most important thing he wanted to convey to the American people. Barbour delivered this as the laugh line: “Put the shower curtain inside the tub.”

As the crowd’s laughter died down, Barbour added: “Now there’s a guy that knew what was important to him. What is important to us is to have a new president on January 20, 2013. We can’t lose focus on that.”

A reporter in the back of the room was doing a “live shot” and Barbour took a shot at him.  “Our friends in the news media, the ones in the back talkin’,” Barbour said, to applause from the crowd. Barbour continued his thought, then, suggesting the news media has gotten Obama wrong.

Barbour criticized Obama for proposing increases in taxes on the oil industry. “Who’s he think’s going to pay that? Exxon? That’s going to be paid by the people who are pumping gas and diesel fuel into their cars & trucks,” Barbour said.

Barbour cast Democrats as a party who thinks “a bigger government means a bigger economy.” Barbour said a bigger government means a smaller economy. “When the government sucks all the money out of the economy, how is the private sector supposed to create jobs?”

Barbour dismissed the “government elites in Washington” toward the end of his remarks.

“I wish we had some people in this administration who’d signed the front side of a paycheck in their lives,” Barbour said, to applause, “some people who understand it’s the private sector that creates wealth.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.