Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, announced Monday he would not seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States.
“I will not be a candidate for president next year,” Barbour said in a statement emailed to reporters. “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.”
Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was considered a strong Southern voice as he toured the early battleground states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Polls, however, showed that his candidacy would have been a long shot. He was frequently in the second tier of Republican hopefuls seeking to run against President Obama.
“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," Barbour stated.
Barbour will stay on as governor and said he will continue his work with the Republican Governors Assn. “and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”
The departure of Barbour leaves the top echelon of candidates untouched. More than a dozen Republicans are eyeing the race or have been mentioned by others as possible candidates.
Leading the pack has been a group including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Also in the top group is Sarah Palin, the GOP’s former vice presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska, whose popularity has been waning in recent polls. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich also polls well, as does businessman Donald Trump.
In his statement, Barbour thanked his supporters.
“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,” he stated.“ 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."
Tim Pawlenty, another GOP presidential contender, praised Barbour.
"Nobody has done more than Haley to build the Republican Party over the last three decades, including last year, when I had the privilege to be his vice chairman at the Republican Governors Association," said Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota. "He is one of the Republican Party's great leaders and an outstanding governor for Mississippi."