On the closing day of the nation's largest gathering of conservative activists, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour didn't mince words.
While the two-term Republican didn't tip his hand as to whether he'll run for president in his Saturday morning talk, he offered pointed criticisms of the current White House occupant.
Barbour called the Obama administration "more hostile to job creation than any other I've ever seen.'' The GOP's 2010 election sweep was "the greatest repudiation of a president and party in American history.'' And the president's energy policy? "Catastrophic.''
For all of his strong language, Barbour did little to rile up the crowd, possibly because his speech was scheduled early on last day of the three-day Conservative Action Political Action Conference. Barbour, who presided over big gains for the GOP last year in his just-completed term as head of the Republican Governor's Association, is a formidable fundraiser and organizer but he's been a lobbyist -- just the the kind of a good-ol'-boy Washington insider whom tea party activists love to loathe.
Reaching out to both fiscal and social conservatives, Barbour boasted of cutting state spending and cracking down on abortion in his home state. He railed against President Obama's health care legislation and tarred his broader agenda as "bent on fulfulling the pent- up demands of every frustrated liberal at the expense of the public good and contrary to the will of the people.''
But the former Republican National Committee chairman also cautioned his party, which he said was partly to blame for the federal government's overspending in recent years.
"They didn't give us a mandate to govern. They gave us a chance to earn their trust and support,'' he said. "So now let's make the most of it.''