Barbour Folds After 'Poker' Remark | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Barbour Folds After 'Poker' Remark

This week, former governor Haley Barbour touched off more tumult, providing one more distraction for his party, by running his mouth.

This week, former governor Haley Barbour touched off more tumult, providing one more distraction for his party, by running his mouth. Photo by Courtesy Gage Skidmore

It's too bad that Haley Barbour wrecked his prospects of ever joining a national presidential ticket with his controversial pardons earlier this year, because as much as he puts his foot in his mouth, he could be vice-presidential material.

This week, the former Mississippi governor and Republican Governor's Association chairman touched off more tumult, providing one more distraction for his party, by running his mouth.

"While I would love for (Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie to put a hot poker to Obama's butt ... I thought he did what he was supposed to do," Barbour said last week, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

The progressive blogosphere and some mainstream media outlets seized on the comment, questioning whether the statement was a reference to the practice of Southern slave owners branding their human chattel. It certainly didn't help Barbour's cause that he happened to be speaking at a private fundraiser in Tampa, Fla., hosted by American Crossroads, the Super PAC that Karl Rove started.

Barbour immediately retreated, offering an apology to anyone who felt his comments connoted meaning that he did not intend.

"As a Republican, I would have liked to see Chris Christie put the heat on Obama -- but for the audience of independents he did the right thing. In any case, it's critical that we all keep our comments free of extremes or anything that could be misinterpreted," Barbour said in statement to POLITICO.

Yet creating maelstroms with his mouth has been somewhat of a past time for Barbour.

Even before his pardons, Barbour threw a monkey-wrench in his own state party's push to change the definition of when human life begins when he said he had concerns about the Personhood Initiative and suggested that the issue was best left up to the Legislature rather than voters.

After he issued more than 200 pardons on the day his successor and fellow Republican, Phil Bryant, would be sworn in, Barbour stuck to his guns, defending the move in a Washington Post op-ed:

"Historically, most of the inmates sent to the mansion, known in Mississippi as trusties, have been murderers, convicted of crimes of passion. Experts agree that these inmates are the least likely to commit another crime and the most likely to serve out their sentences well."

In light of the hot-poker remark, POLITICO compiled a list of the former governor's most memorable verbal missteps, including the time when he told a conservative magazine that he didn't remember racism while growing up in 1960s Yazoo City as being all that bad.

"You heard of the Citizens' Council? Up north, they think that it was like the KKK. Where I come from, it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City, they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you'd lose it. If you had a store, they'd see nobody shopped there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City," he said in an interview with the Weekly Standard in 2010.

Barbour backtracked then, too, calling segregation and the Citizen's Council indefensible. He added of the Jim Crow era: "It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."

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