The Pomposity of the New York Times’ Nate Silver

Bookmark and Share Wow. I believe pompous arrogance would be the most fitting way to characterize Nate. Silvers recent analysis entitled On The Largely Irrelevant News About Haley Barbour Not Running for President.

First of all, for Mr. Silver to characterize Haley Barbours decision not to run for the Republican presidential nomination as irrelevant, is mind numbingly ignorant. The Barbour decision is one of the most important decisions to have been made regarding the 2012 presidential election to date. As noted in White House 2012, Governor Barbours decision not to run, has freed up many supporters and much money. Furthermore; whether Silver wants to deny it or not, that decisions has increased the chances that one of the top tier Republican presidential contenders, Governor Mitch Daniels, will run. This is far from irrelevant.

But beyond this, Mr. Silver takes it upon himself to bestow great credit to himself for never having given much thought or ink to the possibility of a Haley Barbour presidential candidacy. This is not something which I believe he deserves either personal or public credit for. Perhaps part of the reason as to why Silver did not take the potential candidacy of Governor Haley Barbour seriously was because he is utterly blind to the art of political campaigning and its powerful ability to overcome some negative perceptions, and to accentuate positive ones. Perhaps another reason is because Mr. Silvers liberal biases do not allow his mind to be as open as he would have us believe.

Haley Barbour is conservative, a point that I am sure did not go unnoticed by the New York Times Nate Silver. And it is that point which more than likely accounted for his tendency to not take Barbours potential candidacy seriously.

The fact of the matter is that for Mr. Silver to give himself a Super Bowl ring for Monday morning quarterbacking a game that has not yet even begun, is a bit silly. For him to imply thepossesion ofsome greater political instinct or knowledge than others, including Jonathon Martin of Politic, simply because he had not given much ink to the possibility of a Barbour presidential candidacy, is utterly ridiculous.

Two days prior to Governor Barbours announcement, I made my own assessment here in White House 2012 and in it I questioned the certainty of a Barbour presidential campaign. The accuracy of that post did not give me license to arrogantly discount the opinions of others and claim or imply that I have shrewder political instincts than George Will, Charles Krauthammer or Jonathon Martin.

The truth is that Mr. Silver may not have wanted to advertise the possibilities that existed within a Barbour candidacy, but that didnt make him any more correct than those who refused to deny those possibilities. While Barbour had several obvious handicaps, most of which White House 2012 acknowledged, he also had the capacity to rise above them. His fundraising ability is almost unmatched, his organization reach and ability was endless, and his record, policies and vision were more than powerful enough to build a credible candidacy on. But Mr. Silver claims he never believed so, so he deserves credit.

Credit for what? Denying the potential that existed? I dont think so.

Although I tend to believe that Haley Barbour and his family, decided against a run for President because of the obstacles, I do not believe the decision was reached because they concluded that they could not overcome the obstacles. I believe they decided not to run because they did not know exactly how committed they were to insuring that they overcame those obstacles. It is that uncertainty of commitment that Haley Barbour cited as the reason for deciding not to run. Yet in his analysis, Nate Silver suggests that his colleagues would be best advised to not take what those they write about so literally. I suggest that Mr. Silver listen to what those he writes about have to say and instead of automatically discounting the truth in what they say, perhaps he should first be open to thepossibility of thetruth.

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Haley Barbour Will Not Be a Candidate for President

Haley Barbour

Barbour Out

Bookmark and Share In what is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions to date that has been made in the evolving Republican presidential nomination contest, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has today issued a statement announcing that he will not be a candidate for President in 2012. Barbour credits his decision to an uncertainty about the “fire in the belly” that he has for the job of President. He notes that the job requires a ten year committment “to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else.” He adds that his supporters deserve no less and without complete certainty for such a committment on his, he can not persue it in good conscience. (see complete statement below this post)

The announcement frees up much of the money and support that up to now how his by tied up by the possibility of a Barbour candidacy. As the ultimate political insider, Barbour’s ties to the G.O.P. establishment has helped to keep many from picking sides in the evolving race and fromplacing money behind any of the emerging candidacies.

WhileBarbour’s potential run has done little to keep any wiling Republicansfrom getting in to the race,this announcement will have a profound effect on Mitch Daniels, the popular, term limited Governor of Indiana.

Governors Daniels and Barbour are close personal friends. The two men go way back to the days of the Reagan Administration. With Barbour out, the chances that Daniels is in has increased ten fold.

Daniels has proven himself to be aneffective and exemplary conservative leader but his greatest quality is his prowess with numbers and budgets and conservative economics. He is a budget guru whois the total anti-Obama and a perfect potential Republican nominee. But Daniels has not been eager to declare his own candidacy. Instead he insisted that he is serious considering it and will essentiallymake who is or isn’t running, the determining factor. According to Daniels, if the right leadershipwith the right solutions to the greatest problems facing this nation, do not present themseleves, than he will be inclined to run. With his friend Haley now out of the race and out of the way, Daniels is free to decide that the right leadership has not yet presented itself in the emerging Republican field, and so he will in fact run.

In a recent post, I concluded that even if Haley Barbour runs, Mitch Daniels will too. The fact that Barbour is not running, makes it much more likely that Daniels will. According to Governor Daniels, that decision will come soon after the Indiana concludes its legislative session.

As for exactly why Haley Barbour has decided agaisnt his presidential bid,it is not likely that he doesn’t have the “fire in the belly” when it comes to the presidency. Barbour is a political animal who thrives on politics, both the campaining and the legislative and policy back and forth. Part of the decision has more to do with the lack of traction that his potential candidacy has been gaining. Despite aggressive behind the scenes campaigning especially in South Carolina and Forida, the Governor has not been racking up substantial support and his poll numbers have been unable to break the low single digits. As such, Barbour is most likely telling the truth when he calims he is uncertain about just how committed he is to a campaign. For while Barbour certainly has obsatcles in between him and the White House, they are not insurmountable. But Haley Barbour and his family have probably concluded that they may not have the desire to work as hard as it might require to overcome them.

Haley Barbour’s Statement

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.

“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor of Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”

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Expect Mitch Daniels to Run for President

Bookmark and Share Like the countdown to a space shuttle liftoff, the month of April has been ticking down to the launch or aborted missions of several different Republican presidential candidacies. The most notable are Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and soon to be former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr.. Both Daniels and Barbour have promised to make their decision some time by the end of April. Gingrich has recently suggested a similar timeline and Jon Huntsman who cant legally make an announcement while still serving as an Ambassador is likely to make his intentions known shortly after his April 30th resignation takes effect.

I predict that at least three of these men will be declaring their candidacy.

While that is not a bold prediction insofar as Gingrich and Huntsman go, it is a bit of a stretch to be so definitive about Barbour and even more so concerning Mitch Daniels.

As for Huntsman and Gingrich, the secret is out. Gingrich has done little to keep his intentions hush and as soon as Huntsman announced that he was resigning from his post as the nations chief envoy to China, we all pretty much knew that he was going to act on his already stated intention to look at a run for president in 2012. In the case of Barbour, his intentions have been quite clear, but so have his hurdles to a successful run for both the Republican presidential nomination and the presidency itself. His history as a very successful lobbyist, the oozing of some unfair Southern stereotypes, combined with a few early verbal gaffes on race, and his reputation as the ultimate political insider, pose the potential Barbour campaign with some obvious questions that they have had to figure whether or not they can overcome.

In an attempt to do so, Barbour has been lighting up switchboards from California, to Florida and South Carolina, as he tests the waters. He has even politely suggested that potential supporters hold their powder, and their money, until he makes a decision. Given the extent of Barbours effort so far, I tend to believe that he has the fire in the belly that gives one presidential fever, a fever that has to be fed in order for it break. So I expect that hemaysoonannopunce the creation of his presidential exploratory committee. This will be for two purposes. One is to confirm both how much fire really is in his belly and how amenable his wife is to the idea, and two, to see that if it is at all possible for the fire in his belly to be quite enough to win the White House. As for Mitch Daniels, I am going completely out a very shaky limb when I say that he will be running.

Accept for the talk of others, Mitch Daniels has done little if anything to appear like a potential Republican presidential candidate. And while he has taken advantage of a few high-profile speaking engagements, such events are in many ways only natural for a highly successful, two term governor. At the same time, it has been no secret that like Haley Barbours wife, Mitch Daniels wife Cheri is not thrilled by the prospects of having to endure an invasive and inevitably harsh presidential campaign. So there is really very little to support my conclusion that Mitch Daniels will run.

Except for three things.

The lovely Mrs. Cheri Daniels

First is Cheri Daniels. While she is not a fan of the spotlight and is not excited about the possibility of having to join her husband on the presidential campaign trail, in this, Daniels last year as Governor of Indiana, Cheri has agreed to be the main speaker at a Republican State Party dinner. That is not exactly the sign of a spouse preparing to fade in to the obscurity of private life. It sounds to me more like an introduction of both her to the people, and of Cheri to the spotlight.

Another event having me lean more towards a Daniels run, than against it, is the timing of a major speech on education that the Governor is slated to give in Washington, D.C. at the American Institute. This event is five days after the Indiana state legislative session is scheduled to conclude. Daniels has promised to announce his decision regarding the presidency when that sessionis over. It is here that I do not expect Daniels to announce that he is running, but rather the start of either his exploratory committee or the very soon date to come when he will make a similar announcement.

The final reason I have for believing that Mitch Daniels is in fact running for President has to do with his dragging the question out. Mitch Daniels is an understated man. He is not about the drama. He is a nuts and bolts guy and he had nothing to gain by dragging out the possibility of a presidential candidacy. His whole reason for not announcing his interest in running was due to state politics. Daniels did not want the left to accuse the him of advancing policies that were good for his presidential aspirations but bad for the state. And if Governor Daniels would have been able to get rid of that suspicion altogether by announcing that he was not running for President, he would have done that long ago.

There are of course some caveats.

I do not yet sense that Mitch Daniels has the same fire in the belly that his longtime close friend Haley Barbour does. For that reason, I am suspicious of there beingsome friendly teamwork going here. As I described in a previous White House 2012 post entitled Is a Barbour/Daniels Ticket in the Works? , Daniels could become a candidate in order to help divide the vote outside of the South, between himself, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney. This split would allow Barbour to fare better outside of the South where he does not do so well. It would also help keep Mitt Romney from racking up big numbers. In that scenario, Daniels would eventually drop out of the race and try to swing his delegates over to Haley Barbour.

This may sound too Machiavellian to some but this is the big time. It is politics at the highest level and few know how to play politics better than the ultimate political insider, Haley Barbour. That combined with a well established, longstanding friendship between Barbour, Daniels and their families, makes this not quite as far-fetched as some might be inclined to think.

I for one hope that isnt the case. As someone who in 2008, supported Mitt Romney for President, was a part of the Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President movement, and is currently torn between them Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels and Newt Gingrich, I am looking forward to a genuine battle for my support. I am hoping for a contest that will force the eventual nominee to have to truly earn the nomination and allow us to discover who truly represents our conservative values best, can advance them the most, and is most capable of applying them to the practical application of government. I believe all of the above mentioned names are candidates who can do that. The question is, which one can do all three the best? It is my deepest wish to find that out through a well fought contest, that publicly tests all these skills among all the candidates.

But before that process begins, I expect this final week in April to be slow, in the sense of it being a slow build up to a very busy May.

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Haley Barbour Finally Wins a Straw Poll

Bookmark and Share Iowa, New Hampshire, California, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and countless other local county and statewide straw polls have been held and in them Haley Barbour has found himself in the back of the pack with numbers in the lower single digits. But Barbour has hardly been to many of the places where these straw polls were held. Except in South, where Barbours strength should be. There, the Mississippi Governor has blitzkrieged Florida and South Carolina with visits and phone calls to state legislative and Party leaders.

Yet last week, at a county convention in South Carolina, despite being one of only three potential candidates to personal speak at the event, Barbour again lost their political beauty contest. However; this past Friday night Barbour finally racked up a victory for himself. In a straw poll at a Republican County Convention in Charleston, South Carolina, Haley Barbour placed first with 22% of the vote. Far behind him was Mitt Romney with 12%. In third place with 11 percent was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won another straw poll last weekend in socially conservative Greenville County. The rest of the field was as follows; Donald Trump, 10%, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tied at nine percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain tied at six percent, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took five percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton were in the back of the pack after scraping together only a few scattered votes.

Barbour was the only candidate to speak before those in attendance at the County convention. The Governor addressed the event during a two day swing of the state. While the win does not have any real impact on the shaping Republican presidential race, it does have implications that matter. Barbour has been running a Southern strategy and if his candidacy is to have any legs during the primary and caucus season, South Carolina is a must win for Barbour. It is a prelude to the delegate rich state of Florida which follows South Carolina but precedes the rest of the South, the region that should be strongest for Barbour. The Governor himself has been quoted as saying If I run I am going to run to win South Carolina. To win South Carolina in my opinion means winning the low country.

So winning this particular straw poll was quite a symbolic step in the right direction for Haley Barbour, one of the first steps in that direction, that we have seen yet.

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Ohio’s John Kasich Backs Haley Barbour for President

Bookmark and Share Although Republican presidential polls have not been kind to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the people who appreciate Barbours efforts on their behalf are. After raising and spending more than $50 million to elect GOP candidates to statehouses as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association the first of one those newly elected Governors has come out and endorsed Haley Barbour for President.

Ohio Governor John Kasich recently stated I will be for Haley if he runs because he’s been so helpful to me,”.

Kasich is one of the 17 newly elected or reelected Republicans whose races Barbour targeted and played a big role in their victories. Some of those Barbour backed victories included the ousting Democrat Governors in Iowa, while wresting away open seats currently held by Democrats in Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming; and successfully defending Republican seats in Arizona, South Carolina, Florida and Texas. But Ohio was probably the sweetest victories of all. Not only did the G.O.P. defeat incumbent Ted Strickland, they replaced him with what is a true deficit hawk in John Kasich. Kasich also happens to be one of White House 2012s rising stars. But most important of all is the value of Ohio itself.

Ohio is one of the most important states in the general election and no Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio since Abraham Lincoln was elected in1860.

Prior to Lincoln, three Republican candidates carried Ohio, but they lost the national election. Those candidates were John C. Fremont in 1856; James G. Blaine in 1884, and Benjamin Harrison in1892.

In the last century, only two Democrats, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and John F. Kennedy in 1960 won the presidency while losing Ohio.

In the presidential nominating contests, Ohios late date on the primary calendar makes it less pivotal and while this year, Ohios primary may not be held until March, it does carry 66, winner-take-all delegates, delegates that, if Haley Barbour makes it that far, could make or break his race for the presidential nomination. Which is why having the states Governor in your corner and putting the states party organizational effort behind you, could prove invaluable.

The Kasich endorsement is just one of the many examples of state and Party leaders who will throw their weight behind Barbour because of, as Kasich put it, how helpful Barbour has been to them. Governor Barbour has been racking up such chits ever since he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Republican Revolution of 1994, when Barbour was credited with providing the margin of victory for Republicans on many different levels.

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In South Carolina, Santorum Wins. Barbour Loses

Bookmark and Share Republicans in Greenville, South Carolina held their county convention this weekend and addressing the more than 500 attendees were Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour and Rick Santorum.

Not long after each of the three potential Republican presidential contenders spoke, 413 of those in attendance at the convention voted in a straw poll that produced a big win for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum won 31 % of the vote and coming in second, far behind him, was Newt Gingrich with 14%.

Santorum impressed the GOP activists in attendance with a bombastic speech that touched upon the most important issues of the day. H, ,along with Gingrich and Barbour, praised House Republicans for their handling of the budget negotiations and credited them with getting Democrats to cave and give in to some of the biggest budget cuts in history. But Santorum also roused the crowd with his anti-Obamacare points. He received some of the loudest applause when he spoke of his own healthcare plan which he calls You Care. As Santorum tells it, it is called You Care because you know how to care for yourself better than the government.

Between his good performance and 13 previous visits to South Carolina, more than any other potential presidential rival, Santorum still did surprising well, especially given his lead which was more than double that of the second place finisher.

While Santorum won big, and Newt Gingrich faired decently in the straw poll, Haley Barbour, the third soon to be presidential candidate to address the convention, lost and he lost big. Barbour has been focusing much of his efforts on the G.O.P. establishment leadership in both South Carolina and Florida. He has made numerous trips to both states and is constantly talking to legislative and Party leaders in both states. Yet in the straw poll he pulled a mere 5% of the vote, tying for 6th place with Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. The only major name who had a more disappointing total was Sarah Palin who received 4%.

Part of the reason for Barbours loss, despite being there to personally address the straw poll voters, is his lackluster oratory skills. While what Barbour says is popular with the G.O.P. base, how he says is uninspiring and as a result, so are his vote totals.

Common thinking is that Haley Barbour actually has a better chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee than does Rick Santorum. Barbour has solid roots within the establishment and among Party leadership and numerous Republican Governors. He also has a fundraising network unmatched by anyone, including President Obama. Barbour also has a direct line to some of the top talent in politics. All that is in addition to his own superior political strategic skills. But unless Barbour can begin addressing voters in a way that crerates some visuals and inspiration, all his potential will be wasted. Barbour is in desperate need of skilled wordsmiths, people who can phrase the great thoughts that Barbour has in a way that makes people jump to their feet and in a way that can communicate his message to other regions of the country in a way that makes them forget the Southern drawl that dominates his bland message.

The final results of the Greenville Straw Poll were as follows:

  • Santorum – 31%
  • Gingrich – 14%
  • Bachmann – 7%
  • Trump- 7%
  • Romney- 6%
  • Christie- 6%
  • Barbour – 5%
  • Ron Paul- 5%
  • Huckabee – 5%
  • Palin- 4%
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Barbour Plans a Southern Strategy

Bookmark and Share Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has again trekked to Florida where he has visited State Senate and House leaders. He was escorted by Sally Bradshaw, a well known, top advisor of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. During his trip he told reporters, I’ll be in or out by the end of April, but I won’t make a decision until the end of April.”

On Thursday the Mississippi state legislative season ended and so now Governor Barbour, is free to dedicate more time than he already has on the campaign trail a trail which has so far been pretty extensive. Having already hit California, Nevada, Illlinois, Georgia,and Iowa, Barbour has spent a considerably disproportionate amount of time and effort in South Carolina and Florida. In May he is scheduled to make his first appearance in New Hampshire. So while it would seem that Barbour will certainly not be ignoring the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, he is apparently relying on a Southern strategy to propel him the rest of the way through the Republican presidential nominating contest.

While it is still unknown exactly how competitive Governor Barbour will be in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, it is a pretty sure bet that he will quite completive in the two primaries that followSouth Carolina and Florida and that is exactly where it would seem Barbour staked his campaign. Barbour has been concentrating on lobbying lawmakers in both states with personal visits and phone calls, and state and county Party appearances and speeches, since at least October of 2010.

Unless Governor Barbour finds a particular roadblock in South Carolina and Florida expect his decision at the end of the month to be in the affirmative.

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