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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Haley Barbour: A Case for President

February 23, 2010

Running for President is a personal decision.

It impacts the lives of family and friends so greatly that it can only be made after careful thought and consideration.

Very soon, after the 2010 congressional elections, those interested in politics will turn their attention to the 2012 race for the White House. President Barrack Obama’s chances for re-election will be assessed on a daily basis.

One Republican, who might be considering a run, is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. While most of the country doesn’t know him, nor have they ever heard of him, he has quietly asserted himself down South as one of the most successful Governors of all time.

Governor Barbour was elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2007 with 58% of the vote. It was only the second time since Reconstruction that Mississippians gave a sitting Governor a second term as their Chief Executive.

He has led the state out of the doldrums regarding public education, increasing the quality of learning, and funding, on all levels. He has received high marks for bringing jobs into Mississippi (not an easy task), reforming state government (especially in areas of waste and fraud), increased the use of alternative energies and fuels, and his polices have led to the establishment and expansion of corporate facilities locating in the state.

His finest hour, however, was his response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While officials from other states whined and complained in the storm’s aftermath, Governor Barbour immediately went to work, and quickly brought the state back from the disaster.

He worked with federal, state and local governments, private agencies, and others, to restore and rebuild southern Mississippi, where the hurricane was most devastating. The state’s recovery from Katrina remains the hallmark of his governorship.

A former lawyer/lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Governor Barbour was best known for being a consensus builder in his former trade, an important quality for any leader who must work across the aisle with the opposing political party.

Earlier, he worked in the White House for President Ronald Reagan, where he became his top political adviser. He served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and received a lot of credit for orchestrating the Republican take over of both the Senate and House of Representatives in the 1990s.

There are those who find fault with Governor Barbour for his work as a lawyer/lobbyist, but the truth is, everyone lobbies for something these days, and the country might benefit from someone who knows how to do it effectively.

Voters will like the Governor’s personality. He is serious but laid back, and has a reputation for saying it like it is, and in such a way, that everyone understands exactly what he means. He uses life experiences, and wit, to effectively make his point.

The truth is, the 2012 election is light years away, and no one knows how things will look two years from now, when voters will be asked in earnest to make a judgement on the job performance of President Obama.

One thing is certain, there will be a cadre of Republicans waiting in the wings to take on the President, and no doubt they will try to cast his presidency in an unfavorable light. This is exactly what candidate Obama and others in the Democrat presidential field did in 2008 when they successfully wrestled the White House from Republicans.

The country is always on the lookout for a new political face, and a new voice. One such person may be Governor Barbour. Should he decide to run, the people will get ample opportunity to assess his background, and determine whether he could be an effective President.

Voters could do a lot worse, and in some years, they have.