Haley Barbour is the Governor of Mississippi, now serving his second (and final) term in office. Governor Barbour distinguished himself for his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Earlier this week, Ellen Ratner saluted Governor Barbour as one of the heroes of Katrina. “I’ve been around politicians for 19 years as a reporter,” Ratner wrote, “and Barbour is a master of being totally present to his citizens. It is a rare gift.”
Governor Barbour served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, during which time the Republicans captured both the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives for the first time since 1954. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, one of the subjects covered in his recent interview with Peter Robinson.
Near the top of the interview, Governor Barbour discusses what possessed him to become a Republican in the still-solidly Democratic South of his youth. He recalls that at the time of his first involvement in local politics, six percent of Mississippians identified themselves as Republicans: “To be a Republican in Mississippi in 1968, you had to take the long-term view.”
Governor Barbour supplies a personal twist to the discussion of Mississippi’s overcoming of its solidly Democratic and segregationist past. It was the old Democrats who fought to preserve segregation, he recalls, while his generation changed the South and led the transition to a state with a viable Republican presence. After the election of two Republican congressmen in 1972, he says, they were “itching” to elect a Republican Senator. A friend advised him, however, that they “were just a few funerals away” from that eventuality.
This is an engaging and thought-provoking interview. Through our arrangement with the Hoover Institution, we are pleased to present the interview in its entirety. Please check it out.
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