Gov. Barbour on Disaster in Dixie, 2012 Race, Gas Prices

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right, to Mississippi, where the Army Corps of Engineers is now warning people that floodwaters will indeed linger well into June, not exactly what my next guest wants to hear.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour with me right now.

Governor, this -- this goes from bad to worse, huh?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, R-MISS.: Well, it’s not a surprise, Neil.

The -- the -- one of the bad things about a great big flood like this is, the water rises for a long time, and you have a long wait on the front end. In this case, the crest is going to remain for two, three, or several days, and then it will be weeks before some areas are -- are fully dry.

That’s just part of what big floods are like. And those of us who grew up around the Mississippi River, the system is much better than it used to be. But when we have record high, historic levels in the Mississippi, this is the result.

CAVUTO: I’m just worried, given this forecast today I think the National Weather Service put out, or National Hurricane Center, that we could have 10 serious hurricanes hit the Southern part of the country, by definition, including the Gulf, this summer. This could be dicey, huh?

BARBOUR: Well, I remember, after 2005, when we had an incredibly awful year, 2004 and ‘05, in fact, in the Gulf, there were huge predictions of giant hurricanes...

CAVUTO: You’re right.

BARBOUR: ... and many hurricanes and in 2006. It didn’t happen.

CAVUTO: Yes, you are right about that.

BARBOUR: The meteorologists do the best they can, and I’m not being critical of them, but a lot of this is not very predictable. Let’s just leave it at that.

CAVUTO: You know it always comes back to the resources in your fine region, Governor, and throughout, and how it’s going to impact food prices in this country. Obviously, if you have flooding along key rivers and ports and terminals and along the Mississippi River, it takes longer for goods to make their way to folks across the country, to say nothing of the flooded farms and fields directly affected in the country. And then that leads to still higher food prices.

Is all of this a worry we have to deal with?

BARBOUR: Well, it is to some degree.

We’re going to lose hundreds of thousands of acres of crops. The question is will the soil dry out enough that a late crop can be made? We could plant soybeans here in late June or even the first week in July and still make a crop. But, you know, we have -- we have lost what looked like a very promising corn crop, or at least it started off as very promising.

As you say, our part of the country is a -- is a place where there are a tremendous amount of agricultural products, timber, forest products...


BARBOUR: ... and, of course, energy. And right now, all of these prices are higher, but part of it is because the dollar is lower. And, you know, that’s -- that’s part of a lot of what we’re dealing with.

We’ve had some recovery for the dollar here with Europe, because the euro has gone down.

CAVUTO: Right.

BARBOUR: The euro’s weaker than the dollar, so to speak. But if you go back for the last couple of years, the dollar is weaker. And that means we pay more in dollars for oil...

CAVUTO: That’s exactly right.

BARBOUR: ... for soybeans, for corn, or whatever it is.

CAVUTO: That’s exactly right.

Governor, if you don’t mind my switching gears to more parochial concerns and gossip, and that is in the political arena, do you regret, you know, taking your name out of that 2012 Republican presidential list now that so many others have -- have begged off, Governor Mike Huckabee among them, John Thune of South Dakota a few months ago, Donald Trump lately?

What’s going on?

BARBOUR: The answer -- the answer, Neil, is that I do not regret it.

As I said before I made the decision, what others do would have nothing to do with my decision. And it didn’t have anything to do with my decision. I think it was the right decision for me.

I will say, when I hear the president today calling for the Israelis to offer to give away so much of their security by withdrawing to pre-1967 lines, I sure hope somebody on our side, and I expect a lot of people on our side are going to say, we don’t expect the Israelis to be idiots. We don’t expect the Israelis to do what’s against their own interests just because the American -- the U.S. government tries to tell them to.

So, when I hear those kind of decisions, it makes me remember how important this election is. But, no, I don’t regret it. I think I may the right decision in not running.

CAVUTO: So, you don’t call this the B. team that is left in there, no offense to any of the candidates who have announced or have all but announced, that this is sort of, you know, not -- the "not ready for prime time" players, so to speak?

BARBOUR: No, I really don’t think that at all.

I think it’s very similar to 1992...

CAVUTO: Right.

BARBOUR: ... when we had the White House, and our president looked strong as an acre of garlic, and the Democrat field looked very weak, and the next thing you know, we had a new Democratic president named Bill Clinton.

CAVUTO: You’re right. You’re right about that.

I’m wondering, though. There is a concern about division among Republicans. You know, the Senate has not taken up the House’s zealous approach to reform Medicare. Paul Ryan has been kind of hung out to dry, even earlier this week by Newt Gingrich himself. They’ve tried to make amends for that, but the damage is done and the impression seems to be that the zealous Tea Partiers aren’t too happy with the establishment Republicans and that there’s friction.

BARBOUR: Well, first of all, the Senate is controlled by a Democratic majority. And the Republicans don’t control it. They can’t take up what the House has passed, because they don’t control the majority.

Besides that...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Well, they can offer it in their own plan, Governor. They can offer it in their plan. It might be rejected, but they could offer it.

BARBOUR: But we all knew when we started that it takes 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate and that what passed the House would never have a chance to pass in the Senate, much less get signed by the president.

I look at what goes on here, and I’m glad to see the Senate this week, even though it lost, offered some of the same things the House did about energy, that we need more American energy. That needs to be our policy. The Democratic policy, the Obama policy is just the opposite.


BARBOUR: Their policy is to drive up the cost of energy, so that Americans will use less of it. And at $4 gasoline, we’re starting to see Americans use less energy.

You know, Neil, this may be one Obama policy, drive up the cost of energy so Americans use less of it, this may be one that’s actually working like they want it to.

CAVUTO: Governor, always wish we had more time, but always great having you. Thank you very much.

BARBOUR: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: Haley Barbour.

Content and Programming Copyright 2011 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright CQ-2011 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.