Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Haley Barbour on H&C

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour appeared on Hannity & Colmes last night to defend John McCain's much-publicized remarks about being in Iraq for "100 years."

The McCain camp has complained that Barack Obama has misrepresented McCain's position on long-term American presence in Iraq. Obama frequently repeats McCain's contention that being in Iraq for 100 years would be fine with him.

What Obama leaves out is the caveat McCain placed on that long-term presence: "As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, then it's fine with me," he said, going on to compare any long-term presence in Iraq to American military presence in Japan, Germany and South Korea.

(For what it's worth, the Washington Post comes down on McCain's side; read its analysis of the tiff here.)

Anyway, Barbour hammered on the point that Obama is intentionally misleading voters where McCain's Iraq comments are concerned. It was a relatively unremarkable segment -- except that it marked one of the only times I've seen Barbour on a cable news show during this presidential cycle. That's important because, as I've mentioned before, he's in McCain's VP mix.

Many people (myself included) believe that McCain needs a VP who can bolster his credibility with conservatives. And if that person happens to be a Southern governor, all the better. On H&C, Barbour showed a bit of why he's on the list: He delivered direct, McCain-like straight talk with a drawl that will set Southern minds at ease when he said, "You know, Shawhn, it ra-mines me of that Mark Twain sayin': A lye gets half-way arownd th' worl' buh-for th' truth kin git its boots on."

Perhaps most tellingly, Barbour didn't slam the door on the VP talk when he got the inevitable question from Hannity: Would he be McCain's running mate if asked? Barbour said he is flattered to be mentioned as a potential pick, but that he would be "very surprised" if McCain picks him, adding that he believes McCain will make his choice "sometime this summer" after he sees "what the Democrats do and what the geography is like."

That's not "No."

The interview was also notable for two funny statements: One, Hannity called himself a member of the "alternative media;" two, after doing a segment on Hillary Clinton's new 3 a.m. phone ad and Hannity asking Barbour if he would accept the vice presidency if his phone rang at 3 a.m. and McCain asked him to come on board, Alan Colmes said, "Can't anyone make a call during business hours?"

For all you wanted to know about Haley Barbour but didn't care to ask, click here for the story about McCain's working VP list (by the way, what's with that statement that he hasn't heard back from people heading up the search? "Oh, McCain? AGAIN? Geez ..."), here for Barbour's gubernatorial web page, here for his campaign site and here for the Wiki rundown on the Man from Yazoo City.

Finally, I will tell you that during the summer of 2006, I met a political consultant who had served as a state party chairman and run Fred Thompson's U.S. Senate campaign in Tennessee. We discussed potential GOP presidential candidates for this cycle, and he brought up Barbour's name as someone who would be a tough candidate -- if he chose to run. I remember this person telling me that there was already a "Draft Haley" movement in place at that time. (It's now the "Draft Haley for Vice President Committee," and it files with the FEC!) I only mention it here as credence for a potential VP selection and to point out that it can only help Barbour's stock if others already perceive him as being commander-in-chief-ready.

[Incidentally, there's something intriguing about the possibility of having a vice president from a place called Yazoo City (yes, they have a Haley Barbour Parkway). The only thing that could top it would be to have someone from Yeehaw Junction.]