I don’t think I’ve ever seen a potential presidential candidate go out of his way to laud the record of one of his most serious potential opponents—but that’s what Haley Barbour just did.
Politics is a team sport, as Grover Norquist likes to say, and Gov. Barbour went out of his way to be an impressive team leader. I said in my last post that Mitch Daniels was the only candidate so far who wants to run on his record. Haley Barbour wants to run not only on his own record as governor, but on that of other Republican governors too.
He singled out three governors (besides himself): Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels:
“I watched Mitch Daniels give Indiana its first balanced budget in 8 years without raising taxes.”
After praising Daniels, Barbour went on to drive a stake into Mitch Daniels' idea that tackling the big fiscal and economic problems requires ignoring the social issues. “Some say that while republican governors were attacking the fiscal and budget issues, we were ignoring social issues, but that’s not right,” he said proudly pointing to the pro-life legislation he shepherded through in Missisippi which he said caused “Americans United for Life to name Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.”
“Governors get elected to solve problems. That’s why you see governors focused on economic problems, budget and spending. That year we passed the pro-life agenda, Mississippi had a $700 million budget shortfall—it took us two years, but we eliminated that deficit without raising anybody’s taxes.”
Haley Barbour has recognized his competitive advantage: he can run on his record in cutting government without raising taxes. And he can run on his pro-life record too.
Right now, Gov. Barbour pointed out "Republicans control only one-half of one-third of the government". He quoted his friend Fred Smith, CEO of Fed-Ex, “'The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.' And the main thing is: electing a Republican president next year.”
Grading Haley Barbour’s speech
On Life: A
On Marriage: D
On Social Conservatism: B+