SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie eyes a 2016 presidential bid and sets out to define a new generation of Republican leaders, he has in his corner an influential, battle-tested party sage who could prove valuable: Haley Barbour.
Christie refused to entertain talk of 2016 during the recent Republican Governors Association conference, insisting that he was focused exclusively on his new job as RGA chairman and electing GOP state executives in 2014. And Barbour, a former Mississippi governor, certainly isn't picking sides in the race a full two years before the Republican presidential primaries. But GOP insiders familiar with their relationship said it is close and genuine, personal and professional.