Haley Barbour to Weigh 2012 GOP Presidential Bid, Pro-Life Truce May Hurt

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 2, 2010   |   12:25PM   |   Washington, DC

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is waiting until the conclusion of the Congressional elections to begin the process of evaluating whether he will mount a presidential bid for the Republican nomination.

When he does evaluate the prospects for success in getting the Republican nod to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama, he’ll need to weigh the effect his decision to endorse a “truce” on social issues will have on his potential candidacy.

Barbour, as the head of the Republican Governor’s Association who has been campaigning across the country for candidates, has fiercely declined to talk about a presidential bid until after the elections.

“I’ve said from the very beginning, I wasn’t gonna do anything about anything except governors’ races through tomorrow. We can’t wait till 2012 to start taking our country back,” he told CNN’s John King yesterday.

But he did say he would begin weighing his options.

“I’m gonna sit down after [Tuesday] and see if there’s anything to think about,” he said. “But I don’t feel any time pressure over the next few weeks or months. We’ll see if Marsha [his wife] thinks it’s a good idea and whether others think it’s a good idea.”

Although Barbour is pro-life and signed pro-life legislation into law as governor, he upset pro-life advocates in September when he said those who focus on social issues like abortion are taking the GOP off message this election cycle.

“Any issue that takes people’s eye off of unemployment, job creation, economic growth, taxes, spending, deficits, debts is taking your eye off the ball,” Barbour said, according to a Daily Caller report.

“But if somebody goes to campaign for governor candidate x, I would hope that somebody would stay focused on the issues that matter to the campaign: jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, debt, deficits,” Barbour continued. “You run down rabbit trails, you’re wasting— you’re using up valuable resources that could be used to talk to people about what they care about.”

He said his advice is primarily for candidates seeking election in November, even though polling data makes it clear that Republicans, the overwhelming majority of whom are pro-life, are much more enthused about voting than their largely pro-abortion Democratic counterparts.

Barbour was asked about the “truce” potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels, the Indiana governor, called for on social issues that quickly got him in trouble with pro-life advocates.

He said he agreed with Daniels’ sentiment, which Daniels partly walked back in a subsequent interview.

Barbour said a candidate’s stance on abortion “ain’ going to change anybody’s vote this year.”

The governor faced an immediately backlash from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.

“Most self-identified, pro-life Americans, the number of which have been increasing over the last 30 years, will decide their vote not on where a candidate stands on a flat tax or a value added tax, but on where a candidate stands on the value of human life,” he said in an email LifeNews.com received.

The truce has come under fire from Rep. Mike Pence, Congressman Paul Ryan, and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, among others.

Also, several pro-life groups, including LifeNews.com, released a joint statement condemning the truce and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life issued an editorial column condemning it.  

During the breakfast in which he made his controversial remarks, Barbour said he has not thought much about running for president and wouldn’t make a decision until at least after the elections.

“I’m not giving serious thought to running for president until after the November election,” Barbour said, adding, “I expect this to be a very wide open nomination contest.”

It will be so wide that the majority of Republicans who are pro-life will likely consider other options unless Barbour is willing to take back his remarks and restate the importance of abortion for pro-life voters.