Last held public office: Governor of Mississippi, 2004-present
Haley Barbour is a consummate insider. A founding member of the powerhouse lobbying firm BGR Group, the Mississippi governor has had stints atop both the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association. He remains popular in Mississippi, where he was credited with reducing the state's deficit by half and praised for his calm, effective leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Barbour isn't shy about his Southern flair or lobbyist past. The latter has its pitfalls in a political environment where special interest is a popular barb, and the former has complicated his life as well. In December, Barbour told the Weekly Standard that he didn't remember the civil rights era "being that bad" and spoke sympathetically about a local chapter of the White Citizens' Council, a pro-segregation organization.
Barbour already has the fundraising and organizational talent to launch a presidential bid; if he were to run, he'd likely be the sharpest strategic mind in the field. But it's not clear if the average voter would relate to him.
Representative quote: "The Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress have taken the biggest lurch to the left in policy in American history. There have been no Congress, no Administration that has run this far to the left in such a small period of time. And there is a reaction to that."
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