Haley Barbour on 2012 race

Former Mississippi governor on primaries, candidates


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 14, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": All right, now it's going to be on to Illinois, a lot of attention to Newt Gingrich at the Convention Center in Rosemont, where he is going to be speaking.

He polls fairly well there, not on top there, but it is a competitive state. All four candidates will be out there for the state’s 69 delegates. It is the president’s home state.

And that is the target my next guest says these four guys need to keep their eye on.

Former Republican Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour joining me now on the phone.

I guess I will go into this, Governor, with the notion that Governor Romney, more than any of them, needs that state. Do you agree?

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: Yes, I don't think there is any question about that.

Three different times, Romney's seem poised to put together a winning coalition, after New Hampshire, after Florida, after Super Tuesday. And each time, the following week, that didn’t happen. Somebody else won, Gingrich, Santorum, Santorum. And to win the nomination, you not only have to win a big event. You have to follow up by having a coalescence of Republican voters around the candidate. Romney has not been able to do that yet. This will be another try for him.

At the same time, Rick Santorum may be able to really pull out in front here. This is a Midwestern state. He has done well in the states just to the west of here, like Romney has done well in the states just to the east of Illinois, and Ohio and Michigan, for instance.

CAVUTO: You know, Governor, I had a chance to talk to the governor of Alabama last night on Fox Business. We were covering this.

And one of the things he told me, of course, he came out and endorsed, supported strongly Rick Santorum, even acknowledging that Mitt Romney had a better chance of beating the president, but saying that is just where my heart lies. But he mentioned something else that I found interesting, even though he didn’t agree with it or disseminate it, that Romney’s Mormonism might have been a factor in the South.

What do you make of that?

BARBOUR: Oh, I -- you know, if you had asked me three months or six months ago, OK, you got a moderately conservative former Massachusetts governor who is a Mormon, what are his chances in Mississippi and Alabama, I would say those three M’s make a pretty tall mountain.

And I think there is a likelihood that Santorum’s faith and campaign counterpoised against the fact that Romney is a Mormon was worth some votes to Santorum and cost Romney some votes here in Mississippi and Alabama, probably also in some other Southern states heretofore.

The main thing, though, I think, is, in the fall, there will be 25,000 Southern Baptist preachers who will vote for a Mormon before they vote for Obama.

CAVUTO: So you think in the end the South remains this monolithic Republican base, and despite Virginia, at the cusp, obviously, going for the president last time, you don’t think that that is in danger if Romney were the nominee?

BARBOUR: Well, monolithic is too strong a word, Neil.


CAVUTO: You know, I don't even know what it means, but I think it is a big word. Right.


BARBOUR: A lot of Republican strength in the South. I believe any of these nominees will win the South against Obama, including Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

CAVUTO: Really?

BARBOUR: I believe those three states will come home if we nominate any of the four, because all of the four are well to the right and are much more conservative than Obama. The Obama administration did the biggest lurch to the left in American political history.

CAVUTO: All right. Well put. Governor, always good seeing you.

Thank you.

BARBOUR: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

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