Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) snagged the lead-off speaking slot in an upcoming series of events hosted by Iowa Republicans.

Barbour had to settle for a relatively low-profile Saturday spot at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. But he'll be out front when the Iowa Republican Party begins its new "Chairman's Dinner" series on March 15 in the Quad Cities.

The Iowa GOP announced Barbour would be its first speaker in what the party expects to be a year-long series of events featuring a "national political leader."

The events will help build party infrastructure, according to Iowa GOP Chairman Matthew Strawn.

"Building a statewide organization to compete with an Obama re-election machine will require unprecedented coordination and hard work by Iowa Republicans," Strawn said in a statement. "By taking the state GOP out of Des Moines and to every corner of Iowa, we will be prepared for that fight."

Speakers for upcoming events will be announced shortly, according to the party.