Barbour plans GOP meetings in early primary SC

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who’s considering a 2012 presidential run, is scheduled to have two private meetings with Republican leaders Wednesday in the early primary state of South Carolina.

South Carolina political consultant Chip Felkel said he has known Barbour through the GOP for more than 20 years and is organizing the events. Felkel told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he expects 25 or 30 people at each of the meetings in Spartanburg and Greenville.

Felkel said he hopes Barbour will run for president.

“I think he’s got an excellent record there as governor of Mississippi,” Felkel said in a phone interview. “He’s got common sense. He’s got conservative credentials.”

Felkel said the meetings aren’t fundraisers but will give Barbour a chance to meet influential business people, officials and party insiders.

Barbour, 63, has said he could decide by this spring whether to run for president. South Carolina will have the first primary in the South.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner did not immediately respond to messages seeking information about the governor’s public schedule for Wednesday.

Barbour has traveled extensively for Republican politics in recent months. On Jan. 14, he went to Maryland to speak at a retreat of GOP congressional leaders. He was in South Carolina in early January to attend the inauguration of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

He was chairman of the Republican Governors Association from June 2009 through November 2010, and traveled to dozens of states to campaign for his party’s candidates.

Barbour was Republican National Committee chairman from 1993 to 1997, leading the party when Republicans captured majorities in the U.S. House and Senate in the 1994 midterm elections. He has remained active in the party’s national political structure.