Haley Barbour opts out of presidential race

Gov. Haley Barbour speaks at a meeting of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. Barbour says the Gulf Coast oil spill occurred because the companies involved deviated from industry standards, not because of the inherent risk of drilling offshore. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Haley Barbour
Gov. Haley Barbour speaks at a meeting of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. Barbour announced on Monday that he will not run for president.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Updated: 4:24pm ET

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour will not run for president in 2012, he announced Monday afternoon.

Calling his decision not to run "difficult" and "personal," the prominent Republican said he did not feel comfortable signing up for the possibility of a ten-year-long "all-consuming effort."

"A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else," Barbour said in a statement. "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 has been flirting with the idea of a presidential bid for months, and has made frequent trips to early-primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to gauge his support. But his background as a high-profile Washington lobbyist may have proven a hurdle in a presidential bid, and a recent WSJ/NBC poll of GOP presidential contenders showed him trailing the Republican pack by a significant margin.

Some believe that Barbour's decision not to run could clear the way for Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana and a close friend of Barbour's, to announce his own candidacy. 

CBS News political analyst John Dickerson notes, however, that the implications of Barbour's announcement will likely be minimal in regard to Daniels. "They are friends and that means if Daniels does run he doesn't have to run against his buddy - but that's the only obstacle removed," says Dickerson.

Barbour said he would continue to serve as Mississippi governor, as well as maintain his role with the Republican Governors Association.

"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," he said.



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