NESHOBA COUNTY, MS (WLOX/WLBT) - Eight years ago, Haley Barbour came to the Neshoba County Fair to speak as a candidate for governor. This week, he gave his final speech as the state's top elected official. Barbour leaves office in January. If his Thursday address was any indication, Barbour will have no problem rousing up support from the republican faithful for his final six months in office.
Before a charged up audience of hundreds, the governor didn't take long before criticizing one of his favorite targets. "My first joke would be the Obama job creation policy. What a joke that is," Barbour laughed. "How can small businesses create jobs when this administration is demanding the largest tax increase in American history?"
The governor also attacked Washington for what he called outlandish spending. "The Obama administration and the Nancy Pelosi Congress proved the country can't spend itself rich any more than your family can spend it self rich and state government can't spend itself rich either," he told the crowd gathered under the Founder's Square pavilion at the Neshoba County Fairgrounds.
On education, the governor repeated what he has said for years. "Public school teachers should be paid for performance," Barbour reiterated. "Teachers who get better results out of the same children than other teachers do should be paid more."
Under his watch, the governor said crime is down. "The rate of the percentage of the people we let out of penitentiary who then commit crimes and come back has fallen to 30%, which is one of the lowest in the United States," he said
His favorite topic of the day, jobs. "We have succeeded at our main goal for the last seven-and-a-half years and that is to replace lower skilled, lower paying jobs with higher skilled, higher tech, higher paying job," said Barbour.
He noted his greatest challenge while in office was also his proudest achievement. "Mississippians, in the wake of Katrina's devastation, did more to improve Mississippi's image, including with job creators than anything that has happened in my lifetime," Barbour bragged.
His final words to the Neshoba County crowd praised the people of his state. "Mississippians are tough, resilient, self reliant people who know how to get things done," said Gov. Barbour.