BREAKING: Haley Barbour Rules Out Presidential Run

Posted: Apr 25, 2011 3:24 PM
In a surprising development, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has announced he is not running for President in 2012:

April 25, 2011


"I will not be a candidate for president next year. 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.

"Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign.  Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race.  Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

"I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts.  If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

"A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else.  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.

"This decision means I will continue my job as Governor Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful."

Before this bombshell, Barbour certainly appeared to be gearing up for a run.  He was amassing a talented campaign staff and was grooming big money donors.  Barbour is very well connected and respected in national Republican circles.  His endorsement, network, and resources will be coveted by the remaining candidates. 

Barbour's decision may explain why his up-and-coming confidante, Nick Ayers, chose to jump over to the Pawlenty campaign rather than sticking with Barbour.  Ayers had been quoted as saying he was "torn" between the two candidates -- perhaps he had inside knowledge that this was coming.  Today's announcement will also fuel speculation that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will enter the race.  The two are close friends, and whispers among politicos have long suggested they'd forged something of a gentleman's agreement not to run against each other for the nomination.  Those were pure rumors, of course, but I'd say it's a fair assumption that a Daniels-for-President effort is likelier today than it was yesterday.

For what it's worth, here's my sit-down with Gov. Barbour at CPAC just two months ago.  He certainly sounded like a presidential candidate at the time (the presidential question comes at the very end, roughly 10 minutes in):

"By the end of April, I'll be in or out."

The verdict has arrived: Out.

UPDATE - National Review editor Rich Lowry's sources say talk of a Barbour/Daniels pact is apocryphal and shouldn't be taken too seriously.    

UPDATE II - CNN has more from a Barbour aide.  At the end of the day, it seems that Barbour's heart just wasn't in it:

According to a source close to Barbour, the governor felt he received positive receptions on recent trips to the early contest states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, but that his decision in the end came down to a "gut feeling"

"He just wasn't quite there," the source said Monday. "It wasn't one particular thing. To run for president obviously is a big decision."

UPDATE III - As I anticipated, the Daniels discussion is already underway:

Barbour had developed little following among grassroots Republicans, but his exit from the field frees up a money crowd he has cultivated over his decades as an operative, lobbyist, party chair and governor. These are establishment Republicans who either have personal ties to Barbour, have some hesitation about getting behind Mitt Romney — or both. So they're ripe targets for Daniels.

UPDATE IV - CNBC's John Harwood tweets the latest scuttlebutt from an anonymous source:

confidant: Indiana Gov. now "60 to 70%" likely to seek 2012 GOP nomination

"60-70 percent likely" seems like an odd range doesn't it?  I'm not saying this report is false, it just smells a little.