Chris Cilliza has a good analysis of early posturing by would-be Republican presidential candidates, particularly in the wake of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's announcement that he will not be running.

While Barbour was never considered a likely presidential candidate, his performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his state's gulf coast, had a number of national strategists chattering about him as a dark horse 2008 candidate. That left the other politicians considering the race spending considerable time trying to figure out how the Mississippi governor fit into the presidential picture. ...

The long-term effects of Barbour's departure from the field are harder to predict. The Fix checked in with a handful of GOP operatives. The consensus was that the longer-term impact is two-fold in nature -- geographic and institutional.

In terms of geography, the strategists listed George Allen and Mike Huckabee as the biggest beneficiaries. Allen's good-old-boy appeal tracked closely with that of Barbour's. As for Huckabee, several operatives said he remained a longshot for the nomination -- but his chances were nil with Barbour in the mix. One GOP operative said Barbour's departure opens a slot for a southern governor to make some news -- and Huckabee fits that bill.

The other impact of Barbour's departure is within the innermost sanctum of the party -- the Republican National Committee. A former RNC Chairman, Barbour enjoys tremendous loyalty among the RNC's committee members -- an influential group who may have lined up early for Barbour had he decided to run for president.

I hope our party nominates a governor rather than a senator, but we'll see how it goes.



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