As significant amounts of oil from the BP disaster moved past Mississippi’s barrier islands this week, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) partied in Washington DC to raise money for Republicans. On Wednesday, boats were skimming oil near the Petit Bois Island at the Mississippi-Alabama border. Barbour decided to attend to his duties as a political fundraiser:
Barbour on Thursday held Washington fund-raisers for the Republican Governors Association, which he heads, and for one of his political action committees, which is raising money for GOP congressional candidates. His fund-raising is receiving some national media attention and feuling speculation that he is already gearing up for a run for president in 2012.
“The most important thing right now is the 2010 elections,” Barbour told reporters.
Continuing his record of dismissing the magnitude of the BP disaster, Barbour said on Friday after he returned to Mississippi that major slicks miles long within the Mississippi Sound “shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.” By Saturday, there were “long, wide ribbons of orange-colored oil for as far as the eye could see and acres of both heavy and light sheen moving into the Sound between the barrier islands.”
The system for responding to a major oil spill depends on coordination between the federal government, the responsible oil company, and the state government. Out of the 6,000 National Guard troops President Obama has authorized for response in Mississippi, Haley Barbour has mobilized only 58. However, he has declared today to be a Day of Prayer “to remember the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”