Fueling expectations of a presidential bid, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will take an economic message to President Obama's hometown on Monday, telling a Chicago business group that the nation should expand drilling and mining, and allow more highly educated foreigners to work here.
According to a copy of Barbour's address obtained by National Journal, he will pin the "flat" economic recovery on Obama, blaming "a failure of government policy." Ticking off a list of well-worn GOP complaints against the administration -- spending, deficit, debt, regulation -- Barbour zeroes in on a White House that he says seems "to have no trust in business."
"Is there anybody in this administration who ever signed the front side of a paycheck?" Barbour's draft address says.
Addressing the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce political action committee before a two-day jaunt through Iowa, Barbour will say he wants to "dramatically increase" the number of H-1B visas, which allow highly skilled workers to stay in the country legally.
Barbour, whose state was one of several affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, will also call for the administration to remove what he calls the "perma-torium" on offshore oil drilling and to ease the way for more mining in the Appalachian region.
The draft calls for Barbour to launch his speech with a tongue-in-cheek apology for his use of a teleprompter: "This is President Obama's hometown, and, I just figured, 'When in Rome....'"
After the Chicago stop, Barbour is headed to Iowa, where the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign will be cast early next year. He's scheduled to visit Sioux City, Des Moines, and Davenport.