Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour hasn't decided if he's running for president, but he appeared Friday night before Charleston County Republicans just in case.

Barbour, who led Mississippi through the nightmare of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said he understands what Charleston went through during Hurricane Hugo in 1989. He said he hopes his state rebounds as well.

He then drew a comparison between recovering from such a storm and what the nation faces because of excess federal spending.

"Our country faces a crisis that is every bit as dangerous (as Katrina)," he said, "except that it is more pervasive, and it will last much, much, much longer. ... It will take us longer than that to undo the damage that's been done by this administration."

Barbour addressed almost 200 Republicans gathered at the county's annual convention, and he drew the biggest laugh when he said, "If you ran your business like the government runs its business, pretty soon you could write a book about it. It would start at Chapter 11."

Another possible presidential contender, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, did not attend the convention but instead sent a letter noting that he already has visited the Lowcountry eight times. Santorum also gave the county party a $1,000 check, and his letter called the 2012 election "the most important election of our lifetime."

Barbour said while Santorum's remark might sound like hyperbole, it's not.

"I will make a decision about running for president this month," Barbour said. "If I run, I'm going to run to win South Carolina, and to win South Carolina in my opinion, means winning the Lowcountry."