The First Draft: Haley’s comet

June 25, 2009

USA/South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford hurt many people when he spent the last weekend “crying in Argentina,” as he put it at a press conference yesterday.

There’s his family, of course, and his Republican Party, where he had emerged as a rising star.

But there is opportunity in every crisis, as Rahm Emanuel likes to say, and one man stands to benefit from Sanford’s downfall: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Barbour took over as head of the Republican Governors Association yesterday after Sanford resigned the post. From this perch, he can burnish his credentials as a party leader and Washington outsider as he assesses a possible 2012 presidential bid.

Barbour, a former lobbyist, is a longtime party insider who headed the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, a time when the party’s fortunes were rising.

He won high marks as governor for his response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in contrast to the chaos in neighboring Louisiana and at the federal level.

He opposed taking federal stimulus money earlier this year for unemployment benefits, saying it would eventually force the state to raise taxes. That stance won praise from conservatives worried about runaway spending, though it probably made him less popular with those down on their luck.

Party insider Ron Kaufman said Barbour’s reputation for competence could help restore a tarnished Republican brand.

“He’s got a very loyal group of people and now he’s proven he can govern. He’s a serious player,” said Kaufman, an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2008.

“If the byword for the 2008 elections was change, then the byword for 2012 is competence,” Kaufman told Reuters.

photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Barbour at a dinner for the National Governors Association at the White House, Feb. 22)

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.

6 comments

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GOP = let’s replay the 1950s in an ever-ending loop. It worked so well with W, let’s try it one more time.

Posted by PB | Report as abusive

You’ve got to do better reporting than this.
“He won high marks as governor for his response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in contrast to the chaos in neighboring Louisiana and at the federal level.” He did so mainly by getting priority from the Bush administration for disaster funds, a fact readily apparent in other reporting from that period.
“He opposed taking federal stimulus money earlier this year … won praise from conservatives …less popular with those down on their luck.” Nice juxtaposition of conservatives versus down on their luck – everyone else.
No wonder Rethuglicans are winning the media war.

Posted by Keenan Kline | Report as abusive

The governor is a perfect example of the new American carefree individual approach to the ideals of life, whether a government official, or a corporate CEO. The uncaring nature of these people will certainly lead to the continued degradation of the American lifestyle. It’s no wonder that many elections struggle to get 12% of registered voters to the polls. At the end of the day, we are no better than any other country when it comes to corruption and greed. The crying on TV thing is an old trick – doesn’t work anymore. This guy needs to take a hike – literally, this time. The people of SC have learned a lesson from blindly trusting their “leader”, and should throw him out today.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Do as I say, but not as I do,should be the Repuplican motto.

Posted by John Kiernan | Report as abusive

Yet another Rebuplican hypocrite that wants to preach “how leaders have stepped away from core values”…I’m sure will be reading tomorrow how tax payer dollars were involved with this recent trip as we paid for his trip in 2008.

Posted by Todd Tolis | Report as abusive

Well I prefer Barbour to Sanford. All these superstars in both parties are getting on my nerves.

Posted by caroline | Report as abusive