Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 25, 2011

BARBOUR PASSES ON 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.... In a surprise move, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), the all-but announced 2012 presidential candidate, announced this afternoon that he will not run after all. From the official statement:

"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."

Barbour wasn't just flirting with a possible candidacy; he was, for all intents and purposes, already a candidate. He just wrapped up a campaign swing through New Hampshire; he's spent plenty of time in Iowa; he's been pandering shamelessly to right-wing extremists; he'd started drawing distinctions with other primary rivals; he had a fundraising apparatus in place; and he'd even begun lining up top-tier campaign staffers. The question wasn't whether Barbour would run; it was when he'd formally launch.

And yet, today he walked away.

For the record, I think Barbour has made a very wise decision. He brought a credible resume to the table, and political reporters tend to adore the guy. I've long assumed Barbour would have the resources needed to be relatively competitive for much of the nominating process, with an ability to even be a top-three candidate in some states. When thinking of names of second-tier candidates who had a shot at reaching the top tier, it made sense to at least keep an eye on Barbour.

But there's limited national appeal for a corporate lobbyist best known for saying things that make him look like a racist.

The truth of the matter is, there was no viable way for Barbour to actually win the White House. He could have been credible, and had the capacity to appeal to various Republican factions, but there was simply no way he'd become president of the United States.

Perhaps that became clearer as he proceeded with his campaign.

Whatever the rationale, Barbour will remain as governor until the end of next year, and his presidential endorsement will probably be one of the more sought after among the remaining candidates.

Steve Benen 3:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Odd moment to pull out, however. Wonder what suddenly threw cold water on his plans (which I always though were chimeric, but he plainly didn't).

Posted by: David in NY on April 25, 2011 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

A victory for integrationists.

Posted by: chi res on April 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Impotent bloviatin' now, impotent bloviatin' tomorrah, impotent bloviatin' FOREVAH!!!

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on April 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money

And there's the problem - you need hundreds of thousands of people.

Posted by: martin on April 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I've always thought that Barbour has more viability as a VP candidate than as the Presidential candidate.

Posted by: DRF on April 25, 2011 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I assume his masters just took him aside and told him it's Romney's turn.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 25, 2011 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

"An almost ran" is better than "an also ran", as a money-making proposition. And he is a lobbyist, after (and before) all.

Posted by: exlibra on April 25, 2011 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I dont think Haley can run.

Posted by: Kill Bill on April 25, 2011 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Again, for the 1,000th time, the Southern evangelicals will never accept Romney as the Republican nominee -- not only do his religion and Romneycare disqualify him, but (more importantly) the fact that he ran to the left of Ted Kennedy on the central issue of a woman's right to choose kicks him out of contention forevah. What most folks in the liberal commentariat fail to understand about the GOP base -- and yes, I'm looking at you, Steve Benen, as well as Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, and all the rest of the blue-state boyz -- is that the vast majority of them are single-issue voters, and they vote on abortion. Not tax cuts for the wealthy, not entitlement reform, not deficits: abortion.

WIth Barbour's exit the Southerners are up for grabs. I wonder if he heard that Huckabee was going to run, and decided it wasn't worth it. In any event, whoever commands the Southern voters will win the Republican nomination.

Posted by: BrklynLibrul on April 25, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I am really naive because there is not one person on the Republican side that I feel has a chance or the credentials to actually get elected, much less give Obama a run for his money. What is most disappointing to me is that whoever the R's select for their candidate, s/he will probably receive a large proportion of the vote, making it look like a competitive "race." We, the people of the "United" States of America, are poorly served by the media, which seems to control much of the discussion/conversation about the issues that are most relevant to a healthy society. In a time of global unrest and domestic intranquility, we are fed a constant stream of misinformation, lies and divisive trivia. Each day I affirm the health of this nation and beyond. We are a global, inclusive family, and our only soulution is to work together in cooperation to resolve our global issues.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
st john

Posted by: st john on April 25, 2011 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Loved the Rolling Stone article (interview whith Bill Maher) where he said 'this country cannot afford NOT to re-elect Obama.

Posted by: j on April 25, 2011 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

That the Republican permanent government has picked Romney and that Romney has no chance of winning are both true. They know they won't win in 2012 -- that's why they're doing everything they can, no matter how childish, insane or moronic, to fuck Obama over. By election day they'll be euthanizing their womenfolk to save them from being ravaged by the Mandingo Caliph.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 25, 2011 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I am inclined to agree with BrklynLibrul that Romney simply cannot win the GOP nomination.

That being said, the GOP has a remarkable track record of getting the party members to fall in line with the most electable candidate. In 2012, that candidate would be Romney.

Without unexpected improvements or collapses in the economy (i.e. gas prices hovering around $4, unemployment in the 7-8.5% range) I think that Obama loses a matchup with Romney or Huntsman but beats any other likely nominee.

Of course, Huntsman's path to the GOP nomination is even more difficult than Romney's.

Posted by: square1 on April 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bet he'd accept a VP nomination, though.

Posted by: JW on April 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

This is great news for Rudy Giuliani.

Posted by: dt on April 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Salient phrase: "But there's limited national appeal for a corporate lobbyist best known for saying things that make him look like a racist."


And really, when you think about it. Obama has been a rather good Pres. There are no Really Weird people in his cabinet, enforcement of Laws has been on the upswing, we are a safer, stronger nation.

Do I think he should have crushed the Repubs when he could? Yes. But, I do not think if he had acted that way, it would have made that much difference in policy outcomes.

I cannot prove it, though.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 25, 2011 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Barbour had no more chance of becoming President than T2 does. He knows this. He admitted it. Now he can concentrate on selling oily shrimp to tourists at the Gulf Coast casinos.
And I'll also say that neither Romney or Huntsman (especially Huntsman) will win the nomination due to their Mormonism. I don't find the Mormon religion that appealing for many reasons, but I am certain that most Southern Baptists and the Southern Evangelicals think Mormon's are weird devil types. Hard to win a nomination, in the end, with that kind of baggage. Throw in Mitt's HealthCare Plan and Huntsman's Praise of Obama and they are toast. It may take a while for them to get that, but they will.

Posted by: T2 on April 25, 2011 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

As I have said before (it's easy to repeat yourself, when you are right ), the 2012 Republican candidate will be a sacrificial lamb, a place holder, since Obama will win re-election.
The real candidates are keeping their powder dry and their names below the radar. In four years the candidate(s) will be able to manufacture an impressive resume, while eradicating any bits of downside perceptions. Such as "Dubya? Well, yes we were related, but that was sooo long ago. . .)

Posted by: DAY on April 25, 2011 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think this has to speak to some internal polling about Obama's potential for re-election coupled with the Tea Party's wider appeal (or lack thereof). There are some factors (fragile economy, high unemployment) that should have Republicans falling over themselves to get in the race. But, right now, in order to win the nomination, a GOP candidate has to run on completely looney positions that would alienate everyone outside the 28% of the "core" GOP base...

Posted by: Mike Lamb on April 25, 2011 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

yes Mike, the GOP has to run on looney positions to even get votes for the nomination. Consider Barbour for instance...here we have a clear racist good-old-boy former (and proud) lobbyist from the Deep South and HE can't see himself getting the nomination because he's not looney enough. That tells you something.
And yes, although much can happen, it's hard to see Palin, Bachmann, Sanitarium or anyone else beating Obama in 2012. The one thing to consider is exactly who is on the radar screen to be the Dem nominee in 2016? I couldn't even speculate. What is certain, is if that is the date the GOP is targeting to recapture the Oval Office, they'd better make sure none of the economic nonsense they are currently peddling is actually enacted because the economy will be so bad a GOPer will never get elected.

Posted by: T2 on April 25, 2011 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

That is really, really too bad. I was very much looking forward to his campaign.

Oh well. Plenty of other loons still in the bin to choose from. Trump, anyone?

Posted by: Jon on April 25, 2011 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

There was absolutely NO WAY for Barbour to overcome his "boss hogg" sound and look at the national level.

The racism thing was just the added cherry on his loser sundae.

Posted by: Four Legsgood on April 25, 2011 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

2012 is the year when you cannot be too crazy or incompetent to be a candidate for the republican presidential ticket. Hucklebee has as much chance being president as Chuck Norris does or Palin as much chance Laura Angle. Bachmann as much chance as Lady Gaga. Trump no better chance than Don King or Pawlenty...well, you get the picture. The party is buried in craziness and incompetence matched only by it's willful deceit and ignorance.

The "two party system" has evolved into Dems and Conservadems. Republicans have gone over the cliff of destructive madness with Bush/Cheney integrity. They won't be missed...having done nothing for the American people in years save create disaster and hardship.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 25, 2011 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I will not be a candidate for president next year.
-Haley Barbour

Son, I am disappoint.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on April 25, 2011 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Americans haven't voted a fat slob into the White House since Taft. And we all know how that worked out.

He got stuck in the bathtub.

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on April 25, 2011 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Alas, Barbour is well-positioned to be a running mate for someone else, the kind of guy who can throw bombs for the top of the ticket and get away with it and whose background, idiotic statements, and loathsome policy views will get a free pass from the Beltway media since they know he's a serious player they don't want to alienate. He knows how to do all the Karl Rove dances. Sorry for putting that image in your head--Barbour dancing. Sheesh.

Posted by: wesfromga on April 25, 2011 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Foghorn Leghorn knew that nobody was ' studdin' him but the CAC in Mississippi.

Posted by: rikyrah on April 25, 2011 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Where is the big money going? It's got to be either Pawlenty or Romney, right? So if the Mormon thing is really such a big problem for Romney, doesn't that mean that the nomination *has* to go to Pawlenty?

Posted by: weichi on April 25, 2011 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

haley has his hands full trying to get mississippi off the bottom of just about every state ranking ..


his state is #1 in one area..

Mississippi is the most conservative state - Gallup 2/25/11

Posted by: mr. irony on April 26, 2011 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a MS Democrat and educator (yes, there are both of those things in Mississippi), I'm very disappointed and surprised by this announcement.

Disappointed because while it was on the table, there was a good chance of more "beautification" measures for education, culture, state health care, etc. coming out of Barbour's office like we've seen in recent months. Case in point: our White-Citizens'-Council-loving governor just recently got all fired up about how MS needs a Civil Rights Museum YESTERDAY, by God, and damn the expense. Something tells me that won't be a priority any more.

Surprised because I always figured (and still do) that Barbour was running just as a show of force. Running a token campaign and dropping out circa Iowa is still a good way to say, "Listen up, GOP insiders: I'm still extremely influential." Maybe he's accomplished all that simply by threatening to run, but who knows.

Posted by: Matt on April 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK
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