Two of the Republican Party's leading national figures roll into Portland on Saturday morning to give a boost to GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley in the final run-up to the Tuesday election.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have both been mentioned as potential contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Neither man has the high-profile of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But neither is associated with the angry, extremist elements of the party that Dudley has taken pains to avoid during his campaign.

The two will join Dudley for an 8 am breakfast Saturday morning at Parkrose High School, 12003 NE Shaver Street. Doors open at 7 am.

Christie, a former federal prosecutor, is new to national politics, having only taken office this year. By contrast, Barbour is a former longtime Washington lobbyist and the current chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, which is Dudley's biggest contributor with a donation total of $2.4 million.

Barbour also has an Oregon connection. At the University of Mississippi, his last name placed him next to the first black student to attend that institution—Verna Bailey, who later earned a master's degree at Lewis & Clark College and is now a Beaverton elementary school principal.

A recent account of the integration process at Ole Miss found that Barbour and Bailey, not surprisingly perhaps, have very different recollections of what Ole Miss was like in 1965.

"Barbour, who's now the governor of Mississippi and a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, recalls that time — when Ole Miss was being forced to integrate — as "a very pleasant experience," wrote Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers in a Sept. 9, 2010 article."Bailey does not. At times, she said, "I thought my life was going to end."