By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON — In some scenarios, Haley Barbour would’ve been traveling the United States these days as the Republican nominee for president.
Instead, he’s on the sidelines doing what he does best — dispensing political advice for GOP loyalists.
Since finishing his second term as Mississippi governor in January, Barbour has been in demand as a talk show pundit, and for the past few weeks, he has been releasing video snippets called “Coffee With Haley,” on a website by the same name, http://www.coffeewithhaley.com .
In the two- and three-minute clips, Barbour gives his opinions on everything from the new federal health care law to U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, who angered people by saying women could avoid getting pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape.”
Barbour tells The Associated Press that a Washington friend approached him with the proposal for the video series as a way to reach people, unfiltered, with frequent messages before the Nov. 6 election.
Barbour writes the short scripts, and posts them to an iPad, which has a teleprompter app. He said he reads from that while someone uses an iPhone to shoot the video, which is then emailed to the Washington friend for post-production work, including adding a logo with a steaming cup of coffee. Barbour, incidentally, is not a coffee drinker himself. He likes hot tea.
Some of the videos were shot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Barbour said some have been shot in his Ridgeland office at the Butler Snow law firm, and some in his office at BGR, the Washington lobbying firm he founded two decades ago.
The videos are posted early in the morning, usually several times a week. He said more than 100,000 subscribers receive email with a link to each new post.
“It’s a little bit of a lark,” Barbour told AP. “I hope that the Republicans who subscribe to them … will get something they consider useful.”
To no one’s surprise, Barbour labeled the federal health law “Obamacare,” and said it’s too expensive and unwieldy.
In a Sept. 12 video, he said Akin should quit the Senate race because he said Akin is a weak candidate who had received financial support from Democrats who see him as easy to defeat in November. Barbour called Akin’s rape remark “crazy.”
“I am not somebody that thinks party leaders ought to be able to say, ‘You have to get out of the race because you said something bad.’ We all say something bad sometimes. We make mistakes. We misspeak. Or we just say something dumb. I’ve certainly done it,” said Barbour, who was sharply criticized as governor for statements that appeared to minimize the difficulties of Mississippi’s segregationist past.
In a Sept. 24 video, Barbour said there had been “a big rhubarb” about whether President Barack Obama had weakened a work requirement for people on welfare. Barbour said Obama had.
“This all makes Obama’s motivation obvious — no work requirement for able-bodied men with no dependents,” he said.
The videos allow Barbour to say what’s on his mind without facing pesky follow-up questions.
Barbour chaired Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997 and traveled the country in late 2010 and early 2011 to prepare for a possible presidential run. He announced in April 2011 that he wouldn’t enter the race, saying he lacked “fire in the belly.” He said has no regrets.
“I made it a habit in my career to make decisions and not look back. If you look back, you start second-guessing yourself,” Barbour told AP. “I’ve treated this decision the same way.”
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