Mississippi Gov. and longtime Republican power broker Haley Barbour tells Newsmax that the 2012 presidential election will be the most important White House race of his lifetime because “people are really worried about the country’s future.”
He also calls President Barack Obama’s tax policies “nonsensical” and predicts that, if the 2012 election is a referendum on Obama, he will lose “most everywhere in the country.”
Barbour was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997 and is the former chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He was elected governor of Mississippi in 2003 and will be leaving office at the end of his current term because of term limits.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV at the governors association gathering in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Barbour was asked about his assertion that 2012 will be a watershed year in American politics.
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“This is the highest-stakes presidential election of my lifetime,” Barbour declares.
“This is my 12th presidential campaign, and the stakes have never been this high before. I’ve never heard people actually say I’m afraid my children and grandchildren are not going to inherit the same country I inherited. But today I hear that all the time.
“People are really worried about the country’s future. They know that we need a big shift back in the right direction, that our country is way off on the wrong track.
“The policies of this administration are making our economy worse, making it harder to create jobs. It may be good for Wall Street, but it’s terrible for Main Street. And so this is really an important election.”
Looking ahead at that election, Barbour says: “I think any Republican who gets the nomination will carry the South and perhaps sweep the South.”
Obama won Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina in 2008, but “I don’t see that happening again,” he adds.
“Ohio could be the state that controls the election, and Obama is not popular there.
“How do you say, as Obama does, that he wants a 1 or 2 trillion-dollar tax increase that would fall primarily on job creators, and then expect those job creators to create more jobs? If you think it’s nonsensical, it is.
“That’s his problem in Ohio. If the election is a referendum on Obama, he won’t just lose Ohio, he’ll lose most everywhere in the country.”
In November, Mississippi voters rejected a ballot initiative that in effect would have banned abortion. Barbour says it failed because supporters “went about it the wrong way. First of all, the Legislature would have passed it. But it got beat pretty badly because about half of pro-life people voted against it.
“The reason they voted against it was because it was put on the ballot not to say life begins at conception, period, but at fertilization. That made a lot of people very concerned about in vitro fertilization, which has been a blessing for a lot of people in this country.
“I hoped they’ve learned their lesson. My successor as governor has told them, let’s take it up in the Legislature.”
Barbour complains that unfunded mandates from the federal government are severely impacting his state and others by requiring spending increases.
When federal officials “take over regulation, they don’t do it well,” he tells Newsmax. “A lot of people say Republicans are against regulation. I’m not against regulation, I’m against bad regulation.
“There are a lot of things that need to be regulated by the government, appropriately, but the best place is at the state level.
“My department of environmental quality understands their job is to help us create jobs in Mississippi in an environmentally appropriate way. The federal government’s idea is that their job is to stop things from happening. No risk is too small and no cost is too high for the federal government to say you can’t do it this way, you can’t do it that way.”
One example of federal intrusion in the states is Obamacare, which Barbour says will “increase Medicaid rolls by two-thirds and increase Medicaid spending by more than that much, because when they announce what the mandates are going to be, what has to be covered, it’s going to drive up the cost of our Medicaid program.
“We have a lot of people on Medicaid and they get good care, but we don’t offer Cadillac plans that the federal government will require.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is facing recall because of his policies regarding public employee unions. Opponents claim the dispute is over collective-bargaining rights, but “there is no right to collective bargaining,” Barbour asserts. “Federal employees don’t have collective bargaining. Many states don’t have collective bargaining. This idea that this is some kind of constitutional right simply is not true.
“Many Democrats understand that allowing public employee union to strike is simply not acceptable if we’re going to have the kind of government we expect in the United States.”
Barbour also says that, if the recall is successful, it won’t scare off other governors from taking on public employee unions because in some states they will have to rein in the unions if they are to get their budgets under control.
“The taxpayers have been paying in gigantic amounts of money and they deserve this to be a reasonable program that taxpayers can afford.”