Lack­ing ‘fire in belly,’ Bar­bour to forgo ’12 pres­i­den­tial bid

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY TIM DE­VANEY

Repub­li­can Ha­ley Bar­bour an­nounced April 25 that he will not run for pres­i­dent in 2012, say­ing he does not have enough “fire in the belly,” and will in­stead fin­ish his term as Mis­sis­sippi gov­er­nor.

“I will not be a can­di­date for pres­i­dent next year,” he said. “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.”

Mr. Bar­bour, for­mer chair­man of the na­tional Repub­li­can Party, in­di­cated he did not have the en­ergy to com­mit to the White House for the next decade.

“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.”

The most re­cent Gallup Poll ear­lier in April gave Mr. Bar­bour just 2 per­cent sup­port among GOP vot­ers in the crowded field of po­ten­tial Repub­li­can can­di­dates seek­ing to take on Pres­i­dent Obama next year.

Mr. Bar­bour, widely cred­ited with help­ing en­gi­neer the GOP takeover of Congress in the wa­ter­shed 1994 elec­tions, was elected gov­er­nor of Mis­sis­sippi in 2003, and won re-elec­tion in 2007. His term ends af­ter this year.

“This de­ci­sion means I will con­tinue my job as gov­er­nor of 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.”

The de­ci­sion to pull out shocked some po­lit­i­cal in­sid­ers, who ex­pected Mr. Bar­bour to an- nounce a de­ci­sion to run by the end of April. He al­ready had vis­ited early-vot­ing states such as Iowa, New Hamp­shire, and South Carolina, which was seen as a sign that he was pre­par­ing to run.

But many an­a­lysts say it is a good de­ci­sion be­cause he prob­a­bly would not have won the GOP nom­i­na­tion or been able to com­pete with Pres­i­dent Obama in the gen­eral elec­tion.

Mr. Bar­bour’s de­ci­sion could be an in­di­ca­tion that ei­ther for­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee or In­di­ana Gov. Mitch Daniels has de­cided to run. Spec­u­la­tion has it that Mr. Bar­bour sought Mr. Huck­abee’s en­dorse­ment, be­cause it would be dif­fi­cult for two South­ern­ers to run. He also has said he didn’t want to run against Mr. Daniels.

Mr. Huck­abee would be con­sid­ered a top can­di­date. In 2008, the for­mer pas­tor who gained sup­port from the re­li­gious right, came out of nowhere to win the Repub­li­can pri­mary in Iowa. He even­tu­ally lost the GOP nom­i­na­tion to Ari­zona Sen. John McCain, and Mr. Huck­abee later took a job as a host for a Fox News Chan­nel show on week­ends.

Mr. Bar­bour suf­fered a hic­cup last month af­ter his spokesman, Dan Turner, re­signed fol­low­ing an in­sen­si­tive joke he made about the tsunami cri­sis in Ja­pan.

Mr. Bar­bour pre­vi­ously worked on cam­paigns for for­mer Pres­i­dents Ger­ald R. Ford and Ge­orge H.W. Bush. He also served as a po­lit­i­cal aide in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ron­ald Rea­gan.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

No go: Mis­sis­sippi Gov. Ha­ley Bar­bour

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