JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour gave a group of teenagers a crash course on the leadership values of hard work, doing what’s right and not what’s popular and telling the truth. Then they tested him on it with a question: Have you considered a run for president?
“Well, I’ve considered it, but I’m not going to think about it anymore until after 2010,” Barbour said Wednesday after giving a speech to delegates attending the American Legion Boys State in Jackson.
Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, dismissed speculation last week about seeking his party’s nomination in a presidential bid. He has scheduled trips in June to Iowa and New Hampshire.
Barbour told the nearly 300 teenage boys that his focus was on upcoming gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia and the elections of 2010. He said he doesn’t think much about growing interest in his future political plans.
“Anybody whose even thinking about this before the end of 2010, there’s no need to think about it, and I’m not going to think about it until after 2010,” Barbour said after his speech.
Still, at times, Barbour sounded as if he was making a stump speech. When asked if serving in the Legislature or coming from a business background was better experience for a governor, Barbour compared his background to Democratic President Barack Obama.
“For me, being in the business world was a much better way,” Barbour said, adding that Obama is the first U.S. senator to be elected president since President Harry Truman.
“You go back in American history, not very many senators ever got to be president, but lots of governors got to be president. Why? Because (being) president is an executive job of management and decision making, where being in the legislative branch is about compromise, it’s about talk, it’s about discussion.”
Boys State is a program designed to educate high school students about state government and politics, and to encourage participation in both.
Ryan Smith, 16, of Vancleave High School said he was moved by Barbour’s speech. He said the governor’s advice will help him make future decisions.
“I would love for him to be president,” Smith said.
Shelia Byrd/The Associated Press