Republican presidential hopefuls are making a play for Haley Barbour’s endorsement — and the organizational and fundraising prowess that comes along with it.
The Mississippi governor is known as one of the savviest and most seasoned operators in the Republican Party, with a vast Rolodex of top GOP donors and organizers.
His announcement Monday that he would not run for president came as a surprise to many but quickly turned Barbour into a major asset for another contender.
“You’re going to see Chris Christie-like courting,” predicted GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who worked on Barbour’s 2007 gubernatorial campaign.
Noting the litany of likely presidential candidates who have gone out of their way to meet with the New Jersey governor in the hopes of winning his backing, O’Connell argued the Mississippi governor is now “the most important Republican not running for president.”
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was one of the first 2012 contenders to publicly court Barbour, lauding him as someone who has “done a lot for the conservative movement and the Republican Party over decades.”