JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour recently made some opening comments at a forum that brought together business and government leaders from Changzhou, China, with Mississippi business leaders and economic developers.
The forum, sponsored by the city of Changzhou and the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce, was designed to try to develop trade and business ties.
It is not unusual for a politician to attend such an event and make a speech. Politicians like to do that. But Barbour stayed for the entire program.
And he wasn’t there to shake hands and politick. He was there to listen and learn. At one point, he got up from the head table and went out in the audience where he could get a better view of the presentations. He did take a break to go to the food table where he stood for a few minutes sampling the offerings, but even then he was paying attention to the speakers.
Barbour has a healthy curiosity — a real quest for knowledge. He can assimilate a lot of information and communicate it to the public in an easy-to-understand manner.
That is his great strength as a politician.
When Barbour first ran for governor in 2003, I was amazed at his depth of understanding of state government. Here was this guy who spent the bulk of his time working in Washington, but he had a knowledge of state government that would rival most any politician who was involved in the complexities of state government on a daily basis.