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Scheffler: Haley Barbour is ‘toast’ in Iowa
Steve Scheffler, president of Iowa Christian Alliance and one of two Iowans on the Republican National Committee, told Hotline OnCall’s Reid Wilson that potential 2012 presidential hopeful Haley Barbour is “toast” in Iowa, because of the actions of the Republican Governors Association.
Iowa’s RNC members (Scheffler and Kim Lehman) signed on to a letter asking Barbour, who serves as chairman of the RGA, why he’s spending so much money in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. According to Wilson, of the eight RNC members to sign the letter, four, including those from Iowa, retracted. But not before both Scheffler and Lehman fired a shot at Barbour.
“He’s toast in Iowa, as far as I’m concerned,” said Steve Scheffler, a social conservative activist and the state’s RNC committeeman. “I traditionally stay out of presidential contested races, but this kind of information will be distributed far and wide.” …
… “My concern is Haley Barbour,” Lehman told Hotline OnCall in a phone interview today. “This is, in my opinion, poor leadership.”
According to The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, Barbour’s thinking is straightforward.
[He] figures Republican Charlie Baker can win the race if independent candidate Tim Cahill drops below 10 percent in the polls. Cahill’s political team whispers that the RNC’s anti-Cahill ads have benefited Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick, who has shot up 16 points in the polls since the RGA went on the air. Still, it’s hard to argue with the RGA’s record of success. It spent a good deal of money in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009, and it will have plenty of money to spend as the other races heat up. (The RGA is also spending money right now in Colorado.)
In a joint statement, both Scheffler and Lehman retracted their earlier support of the letter criticizing Barbour.
“We are strong conservatives and signed a letter we initially thought would send a message of support for conservative candidates in our party. Upon further reflection, we understand this letter could be interpreted as meddling in the affairs of an independent Republican organization and we wish in no way to harm the efforts of the Republican Governors Association in the pursuit of its work.”
Last summer, Barbour visited Iowa and delivered the keynote speech at a Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser. His visit sparked controversy, though, after he told the crowd of GOP activists and elected officials that they must reject calls for ideological purity, saying, “There are tens of millions of pro-choice Republicans that are just as good Republicans as I am, and we need to support them. That’s what party building is about, and don’t think that is giving up your principles.”
Most expect the RGA to become involved in the Hawkeye State once Republicans have a gubernatorial nominee.