ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Saturday called for a 2012 presidential campaign “focused on policy” -- or more to the point -- “focused on the policies of this administration which are bad for the economy, which are bad for job creation.”
Barbour, who traveled to this crucial early caucus state for the second time in the past two weeks, used his remarks at the Conservative Principles Conference to focus largely on economic issues rather than social ones.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” Barbour said, “and the main thing is economic growth and job creation for our people.”
Barbour told Iowans that he would decide on a presidential bid before the end of April, and he tried to fire up the crowd of several hundred conservative activists here with some red-meat criticism of the Obama administration, which he said “is populated by people who have unlimited faith in limitless government.”
“This administration too often thinks we’re too stupid to take care of ourselves,” he said, “that we’re not up to it, that we need someone in Washington to tell us what kind of health insurance policy that we have, to tell us how to do everything that we do.”
Barbour argued that President Obama’s policies “hurt job creation, stymie economic growth." A former lobbyist who advocated on behalf of energy companies, he called White House’s energy policy, “the worst” part of its agenda.
The governor struck many of the same themes he used at events with local groups in Cedar Rapids and Tiffin, Iowa on Friday, saying that what the country needs now is “more American energy.”
“We need more oil, we need more gas, we need more coal, we need more nuclear,” he said.
Complaining that the American people do not need “government elites in Washington” bossing them around, Barbour said “it is absolutely critical that we elect a new president of the United States” in 2012.
Barbour returned to Mississippi on Saturday, cancelling two days of planned events in New Hampshire next week, in order to deal with his state’s budget crisis.