Like the resulting popularity that 9/11 handed former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Hurricane Katrina similarly has shined the national spotlight on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
So much so that Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is now ranked third among Republicans – behind Sen. George Allen, a former governor of Virginia, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – in the 2008 White House Power Rankings, as posted by the Jockey Wire at PoliticalDerby.com.
“There is no easy way to say it,” it states. “Despite the disaster and carnage of Hurricane Katrina, she has been a political gift to the affable Mississippi governor. In contrast to his counterpart in Louisiana, Barbour has earned rave reviews for his handling of the crisis. And … he cannot ignore the fact that he suddenly looks more presidential than ever.”
As for the remaining GOP horses, Allen “holds steady at No. 1”; Romney “is practically drowning in ink these days”; the fourth-place Giuliani “is still the man to beat”; and Arizona Sen. John McCain, running fifth, is gearing up to run a “much more aggressive, front-loaded campaign” than in 2000.
Rounding out the top 10 are Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
As for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich?
“The ultimate wild card,” says the wire.
On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton “is so far ahead that she earns an extra spot” – ranked both No. 1 and No. 2. However, if “Hillary isn’t careful, she’ll have to change her voter registration to Republican,” the wire states.
“The insanely ambitious New York senator continues to move right while taking timely jabs at the president in order to please her peeps to the left,” it notes, including her recent move to break up the Department of Homeland Security in response to Katrina.
Other Democratic front-runners: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, 2004 vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry gets a few votes, while Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is more of a “major threat in 2012.”