Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says he doesn’t think South Carolina’s governor should resign.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford on Wednesday admitted to having an affair with a woman from Argentina, but Barbour, a fellow Republican, isn’t among those calling for Sanford’s resignation.
"In my career, I’ve made it a point that I don’t talk about people’s personal problems. I don’t think it’s polite. I don’t think it’s appropriate and I don’t think it advances the ball down the field," Barbour says. "The people of South Carolina have got to decide and he’s got to decide whether he ever wants to run for anything and I don’t want to prejudge that based on what I think is a personal tragedy for his family."
Barbour is in Iowa today to headline an Iowa GOP fundraiser this evening. He taped this weekend’s Iowa Public Television show "Iowa Press" this afternoon. Barbour is the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association after Sanford stepped down Tuesday. Barbour was hestitant to address complaints about Sanford’s erratic behavior and the lies told his staff.
"I don’t know what he said to different people. He didn’t say anything to me, so I’m not going to prejudge that," Barbour said. "But look, the Sanfords have got something they’ve got to work through. I think they’re trying work through it and what that means politically right now, for them, is probably a whole lot less important than what it means for their family."
Nevada Senator John Ensign was the first and Sandford is the second Republican among those considered potential presidential candidates to admit to an affair this month. Barbour maintains neither admission will have any impact at the ballot box.
"And when I say ‘any’ I mean literally any effect," Barbour said. "…I don’t think it’ll change how one person’s going to vote in November of 2009 or in November of 2010. I think it’s a terrible thing. I hate it for them, but if you ask what I think the effect will be at the ballot box — I don’t think if will have any effect at the ballot box."
Barbour, the chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to ’94, fueled speculation this week that he’s considering a run for the White House since he visited not only Iowa but the "First Primary" state of New Hampshire.
"When I was (RNC) chairman in ’93 and ’94, I told thousands of people, ‘Look, if you’re a good Republican you ought to be focused on the ’93 and ’94 elections because what happens in them is a whole lot more important to winning the presidency in ’96 than going around campaigning for president,’" Barbour said to a group of Iowa reporters Thursday afternoon. "Well, I’m taking my own advice. In 2009 and 2010, I feel exactly the same way…If after that, it seems like a reasonable thing, I will consider it."
Barbour added the likelihood of him running for president is slim.
"I have no plan to run for president. I have no intention to run for president, but I have been around long enough to say, ‘Never say never,’ and we’ll just see where we are after ’10," Barbour said. "But I would be very surprised if I turned out to be a candidate for president."
Barbour joked that his wife would be "more surprised."
The weekend’s edition of "Iowa Press" featuring Governor Barbour airs at 7:30 Friday night and 11:30 Sunday morning.