Haley Barbour’s ambitions

How might Mississippi’s governor play on the national stage?

Not cut out for tea parties

Last December, in a canvas tent erected on a building site in rural east Mississippi, Haley Barbour worked the dirt-floored space as deftly as Sonny Rollins on a saxophone. He had come to Kemper County to break ground for a coal-fired gasification plant designed to capture, store and eventually sell most of its emissions. “As long as I’m governor,” he told the crowd, “Mississippi will have an energy policy, and that policy is more energy.” The line, bluff, direct and vintage Barbour, drew cheers.

But Mr Barbour will not be governor much longer. He is in the last year of his second term, and cannot run again. Speculation is mounting that he will run for president, though Mr Barbour says he will make no decision until Mississippi’s legislative session ends in April. Certainly, if he harbours any presidential ambition, this is the time to follow it. By 2016 he will be 68 and five years out of office. Whether he can win is a trickier question.

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