If he runs for president, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) would present a powerful contrast to President Obama.
While Obama is famously cool and wonkish, Barbour is a gregarious back-slapper; while Obama is tall and lean, Barbour is short and stocky; and while Obama campaigned as an outsider in '08, Barbour -- a former D.C. lobbyist and RNC chairman -- is the classic Washington insider.
The question, however, is whether the white Republican from Mississippi might be too much of a contrast to the nation's first African-American president. Because if he runs -- and if he's the GOP nominee -- race would be an obvious storyline.
And it's a storyline in the Weekly Standard's profile of Barbour.
In interviews Barbour doesn’t have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”
Did you go? I asked.
“Sure, I was there with some of my friends.”
I asked him why he went out.
“We wanted to hear him speak.”
I asked what King had said that day.
“I don’t really remember. The truth is, we couldn’t hear very well. We were sort of out there on the periphery. We just sat on our cars, watching the girls, talking, doing what boys do. We paid more attention to the girls than to King.”
Liberal-leaning Talking Points Memo also catches Barbour praising Citizens Councils in Mississippi in the profile.
Both Mr. Mott and Mr. Kelly had told me that Yazoo City was perhaps the only municipality in Mississippi that managed to integrate the schools without violence. I asked Haley Barbour why he thought that was so.
“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”
While the Citizens Council movement denounced the Klan's violence, it was a group that protested desegregation policies after Brown v. Board of Education.