AP Photo/Cathleen Allison
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | 2:19 p.m.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour swung through Reno and Carson City today, meeting with party leaders, lobbyists, lawmakers and Gov. Brian Sandoval in an attempt to prove he’ll take Nevada seriously if he runs for president.
He was direct about his purpose, eschewing the traditional candidate’s pre-campaign obfuscation about his real reason for being in an early contest state.
“I’m here because I’m thinking about running for president,” he told reporters assembled at the Plaza Hotel in Carson City. “If I run, I will compete to win Nevada.”
Nevada is the third state on the presidential primary calendar after Iowa and New Hampshire.
In a brief question and answer session, Barber said he was well received by Nevada Republicans, rejecting the idea that Southern Republicans and Western Republicans, who are traditionally more libertarian, are all that far apart on the issues.
“I don’t see a big difference between Mountain Republican and Southern Republicans,” he said.
Barbour also was forthright about his unconditional support for storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
“We’ve been collecting taxes for that specific purpose and the American people should get their money’s worth,” he said.
Will that position hurt his candidacy in Nevada?
“Nah,” he said before turning to the next question.
When it comes to legalized prostitution, however, Barbour said that’s up to Nevadans.
“We don’t have legalized prostitution in Mississippi,” he said. “I’d be against it if someone proposed it.”
Although Barbour met with Sandoval, he said he didn’t ask Nevada’s popular new governor to support his presidential bid.
“He’s a great guy, we’re very proud of him,” Barbour said. “If I were he, I wouldn’t even think about endorsing anybody for president for a long, long time. I assume he’s going to keep his powder dry until we get up to or even beyond the Nevada caucuses.”