Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour pulled out of the 2012 presidential race in April, but that didn't stop him from sounding like a candidate as he criticized the Obama administration for its economic policies.
"I've said repeatedly, consistently and accurately that the administration's policies have made [the economy] worse," he told CNBC Friday.
"Employers continue to be threatened with the largest tax increase in American history," while they "don't know what their obligations or costs for health care for new employees or their existing employees are going to be," Barbour said.
In Mississippi, "we all work with this idea about the budget which starts off, how much money are we going to have," according to the governor. "In Washington they start off, how much money can anybody dream of spending." Barbour said the state entered its fiscal year, which started last week, with over $580 million in reserves, or about 12 percent of the general fund.
But the Republican party has no strong alternative to the president, and the army of Republican presidential candidates in the 2012 race can't match the Obama campaign's wealth, Barbour said.
"What should this election be about? The Republicans will try to make it about the president's policies and his record," Barbour said, though he noted that an Obama war chest of over $1 billion is "a big problem" for the Republicans.
Republican fundraising has been hampered by the wide-open field, he said.
"It's the most open nomination in my career for a Republican nomination. It actually seems like a Democrat nomination," he said. "I think there's still a lot of Republicans, including donors, who are on the sideline, who are waiting to see the thing develop and firm up a little more."
Whoever becomes the Republican nominee, Barbour expects "the Obama campaign will spend $300 million or $400 million carpet bombing our candidate, and at the end of that his grandmother won't recognize him or her, much less vote for him...That's how the Democrats will try to make the campaign about something other than the president's record."