Haley Barbour Declines To Run In 2012

After several months in which it seemed like he was flirting with the idea of running for President, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has decided not to run:

Haley Barbour said Monday that he won’t run for president in 2012, removing a fundraising powerhouse with establishment clout from the Republican primary field.

“This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided,” the Mississippi governor said in a statement.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” Barbour added. “His [or her] supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.”

Barbour’s announcement stunned political insiders, as many handicappers were expecting him to meet his self-imposed deadline and enter the race by the end of April.

He had made several recent trips to New Hampshire and South Carolina, attracting a large following and ample media attention. During the campaign-style stops, Barbour had been frank in telling potential supporters that he was “thinking about running for president” — but few observers believed he was actually on the fence.

The move may increase the likelihood that Mitch Daniels — the Indiana governor and Barbour’s close friend — will indeed run, despite little campaign activity on his part. Both had indicated in the past that they did not want to run against each other and seemed to have a one or the other philosophy.

Barbour’s decision is surprising in some ways, but not in others. He seemed to be making all the moves someone who was running would make, but it seemed unclear how he could appeal to voters outside the South.

As for Daniels, just today, he spoke about his own Presidential plans, and seems nowhere near making a decision:

As the time draws nearer, those who know him best see the tension rising as he weighs the political challenges and family trade-offs. “There’s a fight going on inside him that’s pretty rare,” said one adviser who asked not to be identified, in order to speak candidly.

Asked where he was in his thinking, Daniels replied with a laugh, “Oh, muddled.” Then he turned serious: “I don’t want to leave a misimpression. If we get in, we will go all out, and we know a little about how to do that. So reluctance or hesitation about running doesn’t mean we would be a reluctant candidate if we got there.”

Asked about family considerations — friends say his wife has been opposed — Daniels goes quiet. “I don’t have much more to say about that,” he said. “It’s just a very important factor.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound to me like a guy who’s got the “fire in the belly” that candidates are said to need if they want to go through the difficult task of running for President, first in a primary race, then (if they win) in a General Election. Will Barbour’s decision cause Daniels to become more committed to running? It’s hard to say, but I suspect we’ll be hearing something from Indianapolis very soon.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Trumwill says:

    He trashed the confederate legacy for nothing?!

    (Except, of course, being “the right thing to do” and truthfulness and other pesky moral factors like that.)

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    The feeling here in Indianapolis (I do a bit of work at the statehouse from time to time, and try to keep my finger on the pulse) is he’s leaning towards not running. I’d put him at 65/35 against running. Still a good possibility he’ll run, but not great.