Thursday, Politico reported on the dealings of possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour.
As Haley Barbour continues brushing aside speculation about his presidential prospects, the Mississippi governor is discreetly building a complex political operation rivaling those of any other 2012 GOP presidential prospects.
His apparatus, which has socked away hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone, will get a major boost — as will the Barbour 2012 buzz — when the governor takes some time away from the Gulf oil spill threatening his home region’s shorelines to attend a big fundraiser Thursday for one of his three political action committees.
Sources said the event is expected to raise as much as $60,000 for a political action committee Barbour established last year in Georgia, which allows such committees to accept the huge corporate checks barred by more restrictive campaign rules at the federal level and in the two-term governor’s home state of Mississippi.
What the Politico article doesn't reveal is that PACs in Georgia have no limits on the amount of money they can accept from a contributor or corporation. Even worse, these PACs don't have to include the traditional "paid for by" disclaimer on any communication sent out to the voters.
It has been almost 10 months since the last round of speculation surrounding a potential Presidential bid by former RNC Chairman and lobbyist turned Mississippi Governor, so apparently the powers at be inside the establishment media think it's time for another round.
POLITICO has learned that Barbour is weighing the prospect of a 2012 White House bid and convened a private meeting April 8 with a group of some of his oldest and closest advisers, some of whom flew in from the East Coast to Jackson, Miss. The gathering stretched for six hours, during which time the topic of a presidential run was discussed.
There is no mention in this long-ish article from Jonathan Martin that as of the most recent polling, in the field this past fall, that nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) told Gallup that they would not seriously consider voting for Barbour for President in 2012 -- an even greater share than said the same of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin (both of whom were ruled out by 63 percent of the public). There is also no mention of the even more recent polling, from just a few days ago, showing Barbour earning the support of just 1 percent of Republicans.
Nevertheless, with the press, and apparently some DC Republicans, taking Barbour 2012 seriously, I am reminded of a great post from Atrios back in November:
Politicians Are All From The South
This was true for so many years that the politician archetype in pop culture was always some middle aged white dude with at least a modest southern accent.
For some reason, that period just seems so outdated -- which is odd considering that 2008 was the first Presidential election since 1972 in which neither party's ticket featured at least one Southerner (and since 1944, if you count Maryland's Spiro Agnew as a Southerner, which isn't such a stretch considering the kind of role played and rhetoric used by the candidate in the 1968 and 1972 Nixon campaigns). Yet at the same time, one doesn't get the sense that the American people are itching for a return to Southern dominance of Presidential politics. Which is all to say, Barbour may be an anachronism.
Reading some of the coverage of the Mark Sanford scandal, and watching the cable news dissect the story as well, it appears that the common wisdom is settling on the notion that the fall of the South Carolina Governor will serve to boost the presidential ambitions of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Go figure.
Don't get me wrong, I can understand the logic. Going into last week, Sanford was poised to be the new Southerner in the race for the GOP nomination, leaving little room for someone like Barbour to step to the fore -- particularly with Mike Huckabee seemingly angling for a second run in 2012. Barbour was trying, no doubt, scheduling trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. But his path to the nomination pre-Appalachian trails days seemed quite arduous. Now, with Sanford out of the way, perhaps Barbour does have a shot at becoming the GOP standard-bearer.
But is he really an answer for the Republican Party? As I have detailed before, Barbour is a career lobbyist. That's what he did before becoming Governor of Mississippi. It's not as if his current position erases his past ones. And I do wonder, can a career lobbyist really win the Presidency? It's hard for me to see that happening, particularly in a period not too far removed from the Jack Abramoff scandal and its spawn. But if the Republicans think that the best face of their party is a conservative white Southerner who spent a career in lobbying all the better for them.
Albrecht describes the 51-year-old Ensign as a "strong" conservative.
"I think that Senator Ensign will be able to introduce himself to a group of active conservatives who are thirsty for a new voice, a new person, to really pick up the banner and carry it on their behalf," Albrecht says.
Are conservatives "thirsty for a new voice," as in someone who hasn't already run for president? The Republican Party has a history of nominating presidential candidates on their second or third try: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain.
Ensign looks like a fairly generic Republican to me. He would need to do something to distinguish himself in the next few years to avoid becoming the Sam Brownback or Tommy Thompson of 2012.
"I'm not running for president," said Ensign, who's chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "What I'm doing is raising my profile. I believe we need new voices and fresh voices in the Republican Party who can articulate a message of our core Republican principles."
More thoughts on likely Republican presidential candidates are after the jump.