Haley Barbour on Republican priorities: We've got to deal with immigration, economic growth


(CBS News) Former governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi previously served as chair of Republican National Committee and spoke to "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday to share his views on the road forward for Republican leaders.

Barbour maintained that Election Night was not entirely disappointing for the Republican party. "It's not like some past elections where one party suffered a huge defeat. This is an incredibly close election," Barbour said before adding, "Republicans come out of it with about 30 governors out of the 50. Republicans come out of it with a majority in the House of Representatives, a significant majority ... disappointment in the Senate ... and then a very close presidential election that we lost."

According to Barbour, the first lesson the Republicans should take away from Tuesday's results is that "the Republican party is not in terrible shape," but he added "we got to get better on the ground" and "secondly, we've got to deal with the issue of immigration ... how are we going to grow our American economy and where does our immigration policy fit into that?" Barbour asked.

Barbour: Romney's last minute visit to Pennsylvania a "logical play"

Most importantly, he said, "What we need to be thinking about as a party is how are we going to help get the country out of the terrible shape we're in right now," citing "our fiscal conditions, deficits, and debt" as the main issues behind what he called "the failure to have economic growth." He added that going forward, the question remains: "How are we going to turn that around and do it when we're having to deal with a Democratic president that has different views."

At Barbour's insistence that the election was "pretty close to a tie," CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell reminded him that Obama won all of the battleground states except for North Carolina, which typically leans Republicans, and possibly Florida, which was still too close to call on Wednesday morning. Barbour called the Obama campaign's performance "quite static" and added "it is a small margin of victory. Normally, when presidents are re-elected, they are re-elected by significantly larger margins and with a much broader gap."

Still, Barbour conceded, "Look, the American people have spoken. Obama won ... now Republicans have to try to help the country go forward."