Iowa reaction to Barbour’s decision

Iowa Republicans don’t seem terribly surprised by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s decision NOT to run for president.

“I’m neither surprised nor shocked,” State Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) said.

State Senator Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Indianola, has signed on to spearhead Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign effort — if she runs.  “I think it was very clear that (Barbour) was not somebody who was going to appeal to Iowans,” Sorenson said during an interview moments ago in the statehouse.  “I think he speaks in a rhetoric from the ’80s and I think the Republicans in Iowa are drastically different from that time period.”

Barbour ruffled conservative’s feathers in late June of 2009 when he gave a speech at an Iowa GOP event. Barbour cited Ronald Reagan’s “80/20” rule.

Barbour issued a written statemen today, speaking of the “fire in the belly” standard.

“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,” Barbour said.

State Senator Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, suggests that lack of an all-consuming passion is the key. “Taking on the challenge of getting a presidential campaign up and running would be a big task and if you recognize you don’t have the fire in the belly for it, he made the right choice,” Dix said.

As for that “passion” thing, Monte Shaw, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, saw it from the other perspective.  “As I travel around (Iowa)…I didn’t ever run into someone who said, you know, ‘I’m going to put my life on hold and work for Haley Barbour if he throws his hat in the ring,” Shaw said.

Barbour will not run in ’12

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has made a few “testing the waters” trips to Iowa, but he announced just now that he will not run for president in 2012.

“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 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.”

In February, during a visit to Iowa, Barbour mentioned his age and how that was a consideration.

…”If you run and get elected, you’re committing yourself for reelection and so you’ve got to be prepared for a 10-year commitment and that’s the majority of the rest of my productive life,” Barbour said. “And you have to decide: ‘Am I willing to take on the most consuming job in the world, which the presidency is?’ And I have to see if I’ve got the fire in the belly and the willingness, to the exclusion of all other things, to take that on.”

Last month Barbour said he was in Iowa to let folks know “what a Haley Barbour is.”

Before I forget, an odd moment…

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour visited with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in Branstad’s office in February.  Branstad’s staff (not Barbour’s) invited Iowa reporters into the room, and the two governors talked briefly with reporters.  At the end of the event, after reporters had asked their questions and Branstad communications director Tim Albrecht had said, “Thank you, everybody” to signal the end of the Q&A, Branstad made a bit of small talk.

“John Deere makes cotton pickers right here in Ankeny,” Branstad said to Barbour.

“Good for him,” Barbour replied, not immediately realizing Branstad was talking about the company, not a person.  Barbour caught himself seconds later, though, and said:  “Good for them.”

Gingrich speaks @ King’s conference in DSM (audio)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the second prospective “candidate” to speak at Congressman Steve King’s conference in Des Moines. Listen: GingrichMarch26

“First of all, it’s great to be here and I’m very proud of what…Steve King is doing in Washington to defund ObamaCare,” Gingrich said to start. “…What he is doing is really important because we have to draw the line in the sand this year and we have to stop ObamaCare being implemented this year.”

(Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour — the first speaker at this event — did not do the same kind of homage to King, BTW.)

Gingrich mentioned some aspects of the health care reform act dealing with dental care. “It’s not a laughing matter and Steve King understand that,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich then mentioned his wife, Callista, who went to college in northeast Iowa. “She spent four years getting to know Iowa winters better, but since she’s from western Wisconsin, she actually thought of it as going south for the winter,” he joked.

Gingrich declared himself “very optimistic” about the 2012 election.  “I think there are three large topics on which we can recenter America.  The first is values…the second is the economy…and the third is national security,” he said.

Gingrich derided “many of our tenured faculty” at colleges around the country, then suggested “every class in K-12, in every tax-paid college university should teach the Declaration of Independence.” This drew applause.  “And I don’t care what the ACLU says, they should teach it accurately and they should explain what the Founding Fathers meant when they said, ‘We held these truths self-evident…and that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.'”

Gingrich next rejected the idea the GOP should focus on economic rather than social issues in 2012.  “If you don’t start with values…the rest of it doesn’t matter.  Life is not just about money,” Gingrich said, to applause.

Gingrich addressed economic issues, then went to national security, addressing his statements about Libya.  (Read background here.)

Gingrich said at this point, the “only rational objective” of the current U.S. involvement in Libya is the removal of Gaddafi “as quickly as possible.”

Gingrich, as he has recently, derided Obama as a “spectator in chief” who is “confused” about “whether his job is kicking a soccer ball” or being the leader of the free world.

Gingrich mentioned the 200 executive orders he’d sign on day one if he’s elected president.

“We can turn it around with remarkable speed,” Gingrich said as he neared conclusion.

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.”

The Palin rumor

About 600 pastors are meeting in Des Moines, part of the Renewal Project.  Last year’s event attracted potential presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich & Tim Pawlenty.  Those three men are speaking at this year’s event, along with Haley Barbour, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.  A source who is familiar with the line-up and the event itself says: “there is now a rumor that Sarah Palin will stop in at the last minute.”

Media, by the way, are not allowed into this event.  And some of the speakers (I don’t know which ones) may be appearing digitally rather than in person.  So Palin could do a digital drop-in without flying into Des Moines.

Trump to headline Iowa GOP fundraiser

Another sign from The Donald.  Read the Iowa GOP news release below:

Donald Trump to Headline Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner

Continues tradition of high-profile speakers at Iowa GOP events

DES MOINES- Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn today announced that Donald J. Trump will headline the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Lincoln Dinner. The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 10 in Des Moines and will be Trump’s first visit to Iowa this caucus season. 

“Mr. Trump’s speech at CPAC earlier this year caught the attention of many political observers and as the ‘First in the Nation’ caucus state, we extended an invite to allow Mr. Trump to introduce himself to Iowa Republicans,” Strawn said. “We are excited to have Mr. Trump share his vision for a better America through his experiences as an individual who has made a career as an entrepreneur and job creator.”

Strawn went on to say that Mr. Trump’s appearance is the latest in a long line of political leaders the Iowa GOP has hosted during his leadership of the party.

“As Chairman, I have made it a priority to deliver interesting and high-profile national Republican leaders to speak at our events. Mr. Trump’s appearance in June is the latest instance of the Iowa GOP working to provide value to its activists, donors and supporters.”

Iowa GOP officials noted that since January 2009, national leaders including Governor Haley Barbour, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congressman Mike Pence, Governor Mitt Romney, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Rand Paul have each headlined an Iowa GOP event. 

Further details will be released closer to the event.

Barbour here to tell Iowans “what a Haley Barbour is”

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.

Haley Barbour making the rounds in Iowa (audio)

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is at the statehouse at this hour, making the rounds as they say.  He’s met with Iowa’s Republican state auditor, secretary of state and governor, as well as several House Republicans.  After a visit with Governor Branstad, Barbour chatted with the media about his timeline for a decision on running for president.

“There’s a lot that enters into it,” Barbour said. “I have been political director of the White House under Ronald Reagan and I understand what I’m getting into.  I’m 63 years old and this is a 10 year commitment if you run and get elected, you’re commiting yourself for reelection and so you’ve got to be prepared for a 10 year commitment and that’s the majority of  the rest of my productive life and you have to decide am I willing to take on the most consuming job in the world, which the presidency is, and I have to see if I have the fire in the belly and the willingness, to the exclusion of all other things, to take that on.”

Barbour said he won’t make a decision until April “once the legislature’s finished and we’ve got my budget is adopted. I don’t believe in running for the next job until I finish the job I’ve got and that’s why my timing is April.”

I asked: What in your resume screams president?

Barbour said: “You know, governor is the job in the United States and in the world that is the closest job to being president.”  Barbour expressed a willingness to deal with reducing “entitlement” spending, and he specifically mentioned farm subsidies and defense spending as part of that.

UPDATE — listen to the 7 and a half minute exchange with reporters  HaleyBarbour

UPDATE:  read the Radio Iowa story with more details of Barbour’s day.

The 2012 ticker

Here are a few 2012-related developments:

FOX News & Iowa GOP team up to co-host another candidate debate.  This one is to be held in Sioux City — and will be “just days” before the Iowa Caucuses.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul will make the three-stops on The Family Leader’s lecture tour on Monday, March 7.  The last stop is in Iowa City, a lecture scheduled to last from 4 – 4:45 p.m.   That would give Paul enough time to make it back to Des Moines to be the last speaker at the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition’s Spring Event, which starts at 5:30 p.m.  Paul, however, is not among the confirmed speakers at that event.  Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Buddy Roemer and Rick Santorum have said they’ll be there.

The Iowa Faith & Family Coalition’s 2010 Spring Event featured Santorum as keynote speaker.  (The group last year was known as the Iowa Christian Alliance.  It has changed its name to the Iowa Faith & Family Coalition.) In the last cycle, the Iowa Christian Alliance co-hosted a five-candidate event with Iowans for Tax Relief in late June of 2007

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has signed on to be the keynote speaker at big event in the Quad Cities on March 15.  Read the GOP news release below:

Des Moines – In a bid to continue building on the recent successes of Iowa Republicans, Chairman Matt Strawn today announced that the Iowa GOP will be holding a year-long series of events across Iowa designed to support and prepare county organizations for the 2012 presidential cycle.
A key feature of the statewide fundraising campaign will be highlighting a national political leader at each event. The kick-off event will be a Chairman’s Dinner the evening of Tuesday, March 15 in the Quad Cities featuring Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

“The Iowa GOP is only as strong as our grassroots members and county party organizations,” said Strawn. “Building a statewide organization to compete with an Obama re-election machine will require unprecedented coordination and hard work by Iowa Republicans. By taking the state GOP out of Des Moines and to every corner of Iowa, we will be prepared for that fight.”

The statewide series of events will feature national political leaders headlining breakfasts, lunches, dinners or coffees all around Iowa. At every stop, those national leaders will be joined by Iowa GOP officials, local county leaders and elected officials.

In explaining the decision to kick-off the year-long series of events in Scott County, Strawn said Iowa’s third-largest county is the epitome of a rejuvenated and rebuilt Iowa GOP. “Not only did Scott County Republicans deliver for Terry Branstad in November, they won a Dem-held State House seat and swept all three county supervisor seats to hold a 4-1 GOP margin on the Board,” said Strawn, noting that only two years earlier President Obama carried Scott County with nearly 57 percent.

According to Iowa GOP officials, the final details of the March 15 Chairman’s Dinner with Governor Barbour will be released later this week. Iowa GOP officials also indicated the state party has been in contact with numerous national Republican leaders and will have additional event announcements in the coming weeks.

The Wall Street Journal profiled “rangy 47-year-old” Bob Vander Plaats.

And finally, Ron Paul was the winner of last weekend’s poll at CPAC.  Paul and Romney were the only candidates to get double-digit support.