Southern Comfort

Republicans elect a smooth conciliator as party chairman

OUT IN THE WILDERNESS FOR ONLY A FEW MONTHS, the Republican Party is sorely in need of a new Moses. After a tense five-way contest, a badly divided G.O.P. chose Haley Barbour as its national chairman, charging the portly Mississippian with the daunting task of bringing together moderates, conventional conservatives and a right wing fixated on "family values," notably abortion.

A committee member from Yazoo City, and a Washington lobbyist, Barbour, 45, was conservative enough to serve as a Reagan adviser but smooth enough to attract the support of country-club Republicans anxious to check the influence of the religious right, whose...

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