Haley Barbour: Romney has to give voters reason to back him

But Barbour, also a former Mississippi governor, added that Romney had been smart to hold back until now on pushing more detailed proposals, and that November’s election would clearly be a referendum on President Obama’s record.

“In this case, Obama’s economic policies and failure to make the economy grow, create jobs, is going to be the first thing,” Barbour said on “Face the Nation” on CBS.

Barbour’s comments come after some influential conservatives, like Rupert Murdoch, have raised questions about how the former Massachusetts governor is responding to attacks from Obama’s campaign.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in comments first reported by Roll Call, also said recently that most voters may not fall in love with Romney, and will either vote for or against Obama.

Asked about those comments, Barbour noted that Romney, a former private equity executive, had given lots of money to charities and left his job to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

“There’s a lot to love about Mitt Romney,” Barbour said. “But the election still’s going to be a referendum on Obama’s policies and the results of those policies, which are pretty poor.”