BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – Haley Barbour stood under a tent in 2005 and proudly boasted that despite decay everywhere, Mississippians would hitch up their britches and rebuild what Katrina destroyed.
Four years later, he's boasting again, telling anybody who will listen that the Republican party has learned from its mistakes. And it's about to hitch up its britches and rebuild its power base, because in Barbour's opinion, "the American people don't like where the Democrats are trying to take our country."
Governor Barbour made that comment on November 7. He was chosen to give the GOP's weekly address. The next day, Mississippi's governor was on D.C.'s Sunday morning talk show circuit. The day after that, he was in Iraq, and then Afghanistan, meeting with troops, and getting briefings from commanders.
In his final term as Mississippi's 63rd governor, Haley Barbour appears to be thinking about his future. And several national pundits have said that future could include a move from the governor's mansion to the Oval Office.
Hitching up your britches is not the kind of image you would expect to hear from a presidential candidate. Yet, three years before the next presidential election, the GOP is already including Mississippi's governor on its short list of potential presidential nominees.
Romney, Pawlenty, Palin, Jindal, Huckabee, Gingrich, Barbour.
A Chicago Sun Times article noted that Barbour has already been to Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two stops when primary season begins in 2012. He's the head of the GOP governor's group. And he just hosted the National Governors Association conference.
Gov. Barbour still has work to do in Mississippi. He just unveiled his budget proposal for next year. And it contains more belt tightening measures to keep the state afloat.
But when he's not focused on the budget, on Medicaid, on Mississippi's troops, or on our Katrina recovery efforts, Haley Barbour is delving into national and international debates.
Is he really a presidential candidate in 2012? Is the country ready for a politician who hitches up his britches? The national media will make sure we get the answer to both of those questions long before the first caucuses are held.