2011: Year in Review – Barbour's pass on presidential race a surprise

By Bobby Harrison | NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – When Iowans go to the caucuses on Tuesday to begin the 2012 presidential process, one person who many national and state political pundits thought would be a contender will not be an option.
After sounding and acting like a presidential candidate for more than a year, Gov. Haley Barbour, in a surprise move, announced in late April he would not run for president.
The announcement sent shock waves through not only the state, but also national politics. Barbour, former chair of the Republican National Committee and former political director in the Ronald Reagan White House, was viewed as a serious contender. Various national political reports indicated that Barbour already had hired staff in early primary states and by all indications was ramping up for the Republican nomination and a challenge to President Barack Obama in November 2012.
But in making the announcement he wouldn’t run, the now 64-year-old Yazoo City native said, “A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-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.”
There has been some speculation in the national media that some Barbour advisers recommended he not run because of political baggage he had accrued as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist and because of racial comments in national publications that some viewed as controversial.
While he is not running, his expertise on national politics often is sought by various cable news shows. And some view him as a possible vice presidential candidate, though he has downplayed that notion. Recent reports indicate he will rejoin his old lobbying firm in Washington when he leaves the governor’s office in January.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com