Barbour: Not Running for President

April 26, 2011

By Alex Roarty and Jim O’Sullivan, National Journal

In a surprise announcement that reshapes the field of candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour took himself out of the 2012 presidential race on Monday.

“I will not be a candidate for president next year,” he said in a statement. “This has been a difficult, personal decision.”

The decision by the 63-year-old veteran Republican player was unexpected. He had hired staff and had begun travelling in what appeared to be a preliminary effort at a presidential race. But Barbour said that after further consideration, he decided he wasn’t 100 percent ready for the massive commitment it required.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” he said. “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 early maneuverings included hiring key staffers in early states. Barbour had signed on Rob Collins, a former top adviser to Eric Cantor, who just left his job as head of the American Action Network, to manage a presidential campaign. He hired Jim Dyke, a South Carolina political consultant, to run his communications team; former Bob Dole adviser Scott Reed and New Hampshire veteran Mike Dennehy had signed on as well. And Florida Republican strategist Sally Bradshaw, a Mississippi native, would have helped Barbour in the Sunshine State.

Barbour has been recuperating from back surgery that his aides described as non-invasive and minor. But Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist and friend of Barbour, pointed to the back pain as a major reason the governor decided not to enter the race.

“Obviously, when you’re in misery the campaign trail is not fun,” said Rollins, who ran former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s campaign in 2008.

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