“3. HALEY BARBOUR (previous rank: 6)
No candidate’s reputation has preceeded him with the chattering classes more than Barbour’s. He has met the attending expectations in some cases, especially as he begins to form a top-notch staff. But in others, Barbour has fallen short, stumbling where his reputation for political preeminence should have bolstered him. The terrible two-month stretch of damaging headlines he’s endured will make his path to victory more difficult. But if his reputation is deserved — and it is — Barbour will be able to recover.”

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“Potential presidential candidate Haley Barbour appears to be staking out a moderate position on global warming than some of his possible rivals, saying at an event in eastern Iowa on Friday that the country should ‘proceed in national policy as if global warming is actually happening.’…

“‘I think the prudent thing for us, when you consider the potential risk, the prudent thing is to proceed as if global warming is an issue,’ Barbour said at a luncheon organized by a local Republican group, the Linn Eagles, ‘but we don’t have to destroy the American economy for no positive results to do that.’

“But in an interview with a blogger at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference in Washington last month, Barbour seemed more skeptical when asked to comment about record cold temperatures in parts of the country this year.”

“This global warming is about to freeze me to death,” Barbour said in jest.

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“‘The other question though, is what are we doing in Libya?’ he said. ‘I mean we have to be careful in my mind, about getting into nation-building exercises. Whether it’s in Libya or somebody else, or somewhere else.’

“‘We’ve been in Afghanistan 10 years,’ he continued. ‘And the question to me in Afghanistan is not whether we should do whatever it takes to win the war on terror, because we should, whatever it takes, but there are only 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan according to our own government. So have we suffered from mission creep over there that requires us to have 100,000 soldiers on the ground? I’m not saying do this, do that, what I am saying is we need to step back and take a look at what we’re doing and see if we got the resources there, is all that necessary for our mission to be accomplished.'”

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“The early release Friday of a Mississippi man convicted of manslaughter has drawn attention because Gov. Haley Barbour, a possible Republican presidential candidate, had signed an order that gave time off to the man and other prisoners.

“The convict was one of 287 inmates who got a few months off prison sentences for helping clean up after hurricanes Katrina and Rita under Barbour’s 2006 order…

“Barbour spokeswoman Laura Hipp says he had nothing to do with most of the time taken off Goff’s sentence — more than eight years. That came from laws allowing reductions for working in prison, going to classes and other activities. The biggest reduction, seven years, came from working in the prison. Those decisions are made by prison officials…

“‘This is just unbelievable, to give a murderer 130 days off because he cleaned up after a storm, which is what an inmate should be doing anyway,’ state Sen. Michael Watson, a Republican from Pascagoula, told the Sun Herald. ‘It’s beyond me, to be honest with you. I’m almost at a loss for words.'”

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“‘I think it’s almost impossible to overstate his impact,’ said Nathan Daschle, then the executive director of the Democratic Governors Assn. ‘He just shattered our perceptions of what we thought was possible. We had always kept relative pace with them until Haley Barbour came around.’…

“‘I’ve been there when he asks someone for a million dollars, and he enjoys it,’ said Henry Barbour, his nephew and top political advisor.”

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“Fighting back tears as he talked up his home state’s abortion laws, Haley Barbour vowed Friday that he will not adhere to any social-issues ‘truce’ if he runs for president…

“The comments represented Barbour clearest move away from his good friend, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has been pummeled by conservatives for saying social issues should take a back seat to a focus on fiscal concerns. Until now, Barbour has more often used language and a laser-like fiscal focus that led some to believe he was closer to Daniels’ camp on the issue than other presidential hopefuls.”