Could the battle for the Republican nomination go all the way to the Republican convention in August? Could we see an entirely new candidate getting into the race?
One long-time Republican leader tells ABC News the answer to both questions is yes.
“If the Republican primary voters continue to split up their votes in such a way that nobody is close to having a majority, then there is a chance that somebody else might get in,” former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour said in an interview with ABC News.
Barbour calls such a scenario unlikely, but not out of the question.
“I think the odds of having a contested convention are not good but the fact that we are where we are and there is actually a possibility, I guess this is why there is so much talk,” he said.
A contested convention would mean another six months of Republicans battling Republicans, but Barbour says that’s not necessarily bad for the party.
“It is not accurate to say that a hotly contested convention is necessarily bad,” Barbour said. “I am not saying it is necessarily good, but I don’t think it is accurate to say it is necessarily bad. Let’s just see.”
Barbour, who has not endorsed any candidate, says Mitt Romney has never really been a true front-runner.
“In our primaries the more conservative candidates have an advantage,” Barbour said. “Doesn’t mean they always win. But that is just a fact and I think Romney is showing himself to be moderately conservative. We still have a long way to go with three candidates who are to the right of Romney.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that he thinks Romney cannot win.
“In our party it is an advantage to be more conservative, but at the end of the day I think most Republicans want somebody who can beat Barack Obama,” Barbour said. “And nobody in my opinion has made that case to the Republican voters yet — Romney, Santorum, Paul or Gingrich. I don’t think any of them has made the case that ‘I am the guy who has the best chance to beat Obama.’”