Salena Zito

“Iowa Republicans have seen their ranks grow dramatically,” Strawn said, “and a lot of that growth has come from Tea Party activists who were motivated solely on spending issues.”

Barbour thinks that “people are downright scared. Everything seems uncertain, especially the economy.”

In his career in the majors, Moses caught Gaylord Perry’s spit balls, took batting lessons from Ted Williams, and went to the All-Star Game. He said he will be honored to campaign for Barbour if he runs for president.

“People don’t know who Haley is,” he said. “When they do, and when they understand what he stands for, they’re going … to pay attention to what he has to say.”

The Deep South is the one geographical area that has never sent a Republican governor to the White House. Political analyst Isaac Wood believes a “Southern nominee could make more sense for the GOP this year …given the new census count and added electoral votes beneath the Mason-Dixon line.”

Yet Barbour said that what defines him is not geography but the values instilled by the mother who raised him and two brothers after his father died, when Barbour was just 2 years old.

“She was with us at every turn, involved in every moment of our lives … in fact, she was the first female president of the Yazoo City booster club for the high school football team,” he said.

Barbour said he will decide next month if he is running for president. It’s a crowded field, in a competitive year, and many of the potential candidates are his friends.

Still, he wisely has placed feet on the ground in South Carolina, started visiting Iowa and hiring staff in New Hampshire, to see if his message and skills are what GOP voters want.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.