Barbour: Contested GOP Convention Unlikely But Possible

by Robert Costa

Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, an influential GOP power broker, tells National Review Online that a contested convention is a possible, though “highly unlikely,” scenario.

“There is an outside chance, unlikely though it is, that you could get to the convention and have three or four candidates still in the race, none of them close to having a majority of delegates,” he says. “But the idea that there would be a contested convention, where you actually arrive in Tampa and nobody has the votes, would defy decades of history.”

In such a situation — and he repeatedly cautions that the possibility is remote — Barbour acknowledges that an outside candidate could emerge as a consensus nominee. “It is unlikely but not out of the question,” he says. “The operative word is ‘could.’ Could? Yeah. Likely? No.”

Barbour is aware of the clamor in certain circles for his friend Indiana governor Mitch Daniels to enter the fray. Once again, “It is highly unlikely but it could happen,” he says. “It is certainly more of a possibility than ever in the past. However, in the past, the possibility was zero, so to say the odds are higher than zero is not something that, I think, you’re going to want to bet on.”

Daniels says he will not reconsider. But should he? “I would have liked it if he had run. He decided not to. That was his decision,” Barbour says. “I’m not going to get in the business of telling any friend of mine, ‘This is what you ought to do.’ I’m not going to do it publicly or privately. And I haven’t done it, publicly or privately.”

Barbour, for his part, is not interested in running, should the Beltway chatter about a contested convention become a summer reality. “I’ve had my last government job,” he chuckles. “This is one of the few things in my life where I would actually agree with General Sherman.”

On a parting note, Barbour urges conservatives to not fret. “The fact of the matter is that the contests have gone through mid-February. We have three-and-a-half months to go,” he says. “You may very well see one of these four candidates, one who hits stride and turns out to be the best candidate we ever had.”’