Haley Barbour drops out: What does it mean?

OK, so that last post about the 2012 GOP presidential field was a few days old. This one happened today:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) announced today that he will not run for president. The decision comes as something of a surprise — the Associated Press reported just Sunday that Barbour could launch his campaign as early as this week. He had been making moves toward a campaign, including a recent visit to New Hampshire.

“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 had previously voiced concerns about the time commitment involved in running for president, and both his wife and son had expressed reservations about the campaign.

He was also struggling to get above the low single digits in polls, even in the south. His past career as a lobbyist, though he tried to present it as an advantage, was expected to dog Barbour on the trail. His stumbles in statements on civil rights raised questions about his readiness…

So what does it mean? I like that Aaron Blake of The Fix says that “Barbour already had obstacles as a southern governor with a thick accent…” Huh. And we-uns down heuh thought that was one of his strengths

The Post speculates that this promotes Barbour buddy Mitch Daniels. Maybe so. Or maybe Pawlenty. I would imagine it would make the aforementioned Huntsman a little more sanguine about his chances in SC.

Something it just might indicate — and the slowness of the GOP field is getting rolling this cycle tends to back this up — is that Republicans who know what they’re about don’t think they can beat Obama. And it’s hard to get, as Barbour says, a “fire in the belly” for a long, hard campaign that would in the end be unsuccessful.

We hear so much from the Obama-hating fringe of the GOP that it’s easy to remember that fringes do not constitute majorities. The people who’ve been involved in politics a bit longer than the Tea Party’s been around know that…

28 thoughts on “Haley Barbour drops out: What does it mean?

  1. Doug Ross

    Let’s look at it from an electoral college perspective. If the following states flip to Republican and the rest stay as they were, it won’t be a cakewalk in 2012:

    Florida (27 electors) : Obama won by 2.8%

    Indiana (11 electors) : Obama won by 1%

    North Carolina (15 electors): Obama won by only 0.33%

    Ohio (20 electors): Obama won by 5%

    Virginia (13 electors): Obama won by 6%

    86 electoral votes make it 282 to 259.

    Then all it takes is Pennsylvania or a combination like Colorado and Iowa to make it happen.

    I’m of the opinion that Obama would have trouble winning the Rust Belt right now and will be in for an even tougher challenge if the economy isn’t markedly better in 12 months.

  2. Juan Caruso

    Who cares? He was a ‘business as usual’ R.I.N.O. (J.D. 1972)!

    The stealth candidate WINNER, acceptable to the activist Tea Partiers (of which I am not) will be announced so late in the process that the usual, “oppo” (opposition research) legally perfomed only under the client-attorney privileges of an attorney (whom by far are of liberal Democrat persuasion) will be ineffective.

    Moreover, the incumbent(s) are considered so impaired by the voting majority that much of the filthy $$$ Obama can collect again via the internet from foreign sources will be rendered cause to reconsider his impeachment.

  3. Brad

    It’s never a cakewalk, not with the partisan division of our electorate these days, which teeters back and forth so precariously.

    I’m just saying that barring the unknown, Obama wins. And savvy politicos know it.

    This is dangerous, because it means only the risk-inclined (such as the nutball candidates, who have no dignity to lose) tend to stay in. Then, when a scandal or an untenable international situation arises and Obama is weakened, we end up with a Republican who should never have been a contender winning.

  4. Prasad

    Before he took the decision he could talk with his family members and other party senior leaders i thought he is suitable for the next election as a Republican Nominee for the presidential election .

  5. bud

    There goes Brad again with his non-sequetor “partisan” rantings. This election isn’t about partisan politics, an old school way of viewing elections. Rather it’s about the economy and who has the better ideas to deal with jobs, debt and trade issues. What’s wrong with simply looking at issues and ideas and rendering an honest appraisal rather than becoming consumed by an over-arching paranoia over the partisan boogeyman.

    Obama is anything but a partisan hack so I find it instructive that his ongoing efforts to appease the right-wing loonies has rendered effective job creation efforts difficult. If anything the president needs to work with his base in a MORE partisan way. If he could squash the life out of the tea party radicals his election chances would be improved and so would the health of the country. You can bet your bottom dollar the Republican candidates will give him no credit for anything. They can’s even acknowledge his birth place.

  6. Mike

    “I’m just saying that barring the unknown, Obama wins. And savvy politicos know it.”

    Sadly (from my perspective) this is correct, at least at this point.

    American voters are so fickle. Well, at least those that aren’t the hardcare partisans. And it’s the fickle ones who decide elections. Plus you have the whole herd mentality that often rears its ugly head in elections, esp. with a candidate like Obama. How many people voted for Obama for the simple reason that “it was the thing to do” in 2008? A lot. That same herd mentality is the “magic” that the Obama reelect will try to re-create. It won’t be as big as in 2008, but it will still be there. Probably enough so to swing voters back into Obama’s Florida and Ohio columns in 2012.

  7. bud

    Were voters going to the polls as a part of “herd” mentality or did they simply observe that John McCain was offering more of the failed policies of the Bush Administration. Seems like with unemployment dropping and the stock market booming the voters got it right.

  8. Doug Ross


    Very recent polls show that 70% of Americans feel the country is heading in the wrong direction. Unless that number comes down significantly, Obama will be in trouble in 18 months.

    The easiest ads the Republicans will be able to use against Obama will be quoting his own words from the 2008 campaign. He said he was going to do X and he didn’t. Repeatedly.

  9. Brad

    A plus in my book. I hate campaign promises. No one should EVER try to predict what he will do in office, to the extent that he lets that tie his hands.

    Of course, they all make promises one way or another. The ones I respect the most is the ones who have the guts to BREAK them once they see how stupid they were.

    Best thing George H.W. Bush ever did in office (OK, the second best thing, after the masterful way he handled the Gulf War, right up to the point that he didn’t finish it) was to break that stupid “Read My Lips” promise.

    But I realize I’m not typical.

  10. Doug Ross


    You act as if Obama was dropped into the role of President with no knowledge of what the job entailed or without doing any homework/research on the major issues impacting the country. He was a Senator prior to being President. Did he have no understanding of foreign affairs, the economy, the issues impacting Americans before spending a year traveling around the country telling Democrats what he would do when he won?

    We’re not talking about nuances here. If you’re going to run on a platform of changing the way America acts militarily in the world and then don’t follow thru, that’s not breaking a promise, that’s being stupid or capricious. Are you saying he got into office and said, “Ohhhhhh, now I get it! We need to be the world’s police force”?

    What else can we judge someone by but there words and actions?

  11. Doug Ross

    And were the best managers you worked for the ones who told you they would do one thing and then did another?

    I’d have more respect for him if he dared to admit he was wrong then to try and spin everything as if this was his plan all along.

  12. Phillip

    @Mike: why was it “herd mentality” or “it was the thing to do” when voters chose Obama in 2008? Certainly I heard the stomping “hooves” of the cattle who mindlessly pulled the GOP lever in the same election because the Wacko from Wasilla “is just like me.”

    Human nature is such that we tend to flatter ourselves that our choices are well-considered, while those who chose differently are part of an unthinking herd.

    If, indeed, voting for Obama was “the thing to do” in 2008 among many people in the political center, maybe it had something to do with the fact that (whatever reservations people had about Obama) had the election gone the other way, we’d be in 3 more wars by now, unemployment would be even worse than it is now, no one would have even attempted ANY reform of health care of ANY kind, and Sarah Palin would be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. “The thing to do” in that scenario, was clear.

    Will the GOP make the choice again ridiculously easy for so many? This is the big question of 2012.

  13. Brad

    “He was a Senator prior to being President,” says Doug. To which I say, yeah, but not for long — which is a big reason why I voted for McCain.

    Excuse me — that’s why I “mindlessly pulled the GOP lever.”

    Those of you who have a problem with that keep going on about Sarah Palin (including some who got on my case for being dismissive of her at that time). And to that I say exactly what I said then: I’ve never in my life voted for president on the basis of the running mate. I saw no reason to start. Yep, if THAT’S the reason to vote for a ticket, Joe Biden beats out Sarah Palin any day of the week. It would have been great if it had been McCain/Biden vs. Obama/Whomever. Or, even better, McCain/Lieberman. But it would would have been odd for me to throw out my considered judgment about the top of the ticket on the basis of the No. 2 spot.

    Yeah, I know all the arguments — the first executive decision, etc. — for making a huge deal about the veep choice. I’ve always thought that was a bit overblown.

  14. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I guess since McCain has survived this long, it wasn’t as big a deal, but the stats weren’t in his favor.

    The old “gravity of the loss/likelihood of the occurrence” test (I think Justice Learned Hand first proposed it) would suggest that nominating Sarah Palin for VPOTUS was grossly negligent.

  15. bud

    Ok fine. The Palin decision is something that can be completely ignored. It was irrelevant. Voters should not even consider McCain’s choice for running mate. It doesn’t matter that he’s 70 years old and has a history of cancer.

    The decision to vote for Obama was still the only rational choice in 2008. With every utterance by John McCain about war, immigration, the budget, the economy, etc. that becomes even more obvious.

  16. Brad

    Oh, and to stick up for Obama (as you recall, he and McCain were both my faves in 08, even though I liked McCain more), I don’t remember having the impression that he would be “changing the way America acts militarily in the world.” He was opposed to original invasion of Iraq, and there were differences of emphasis, but I never thought he would take us in dangerous, irresponsible new directions. But a lot of the people who voted for him DID think that, of course, which is what Doug is referring to.

    We wouldn’t have endorsed Obama in the primary if we had thought he was going to shirk America’s role in the world. This goes back to the first question I asked him in the endorsement interview, which was always the first question I asked presidential candidates: Talk to us about how you view America’s role in the world. (I’m paraphrasing there. For the precise wording, you’d have to go find it on the video, right after his opening statement.) I did not find his answer off-putting. And I WOULD have been put off by something I perceived as fundamentally “changing the way America acts militarily in the world.”

  17. bud

    A really huge and important presidential decision will come at the end of this year. Will Obama stick with the agreed upon withdrawal of ALL American troops by December 31? That will largely determine how I vote in 2012. If he sticks by the original date I will almost certainly vote for him. If he flip-flops on that I’ll probably stay home on election day.

  18. Doug Ross

    Well, we’ll see how energized the Democrat base is in 2012 when Obama has to explain why we’re still spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and who knows where else while gas prices remain high, jobs are scarce, and the Obamacare placebo wears off.

  19. Phillip

    Well there was enough reason to vote for Obama even aside from the Palin factor, Brad. And not to belabor it, because we’ll no more agree on this than we do on the Iraq venture…but just one last time for the record…I understand your tradition of tending not to factor in the Veep choice in a major way. However, this situation was pretty much unique in American history, because 1) Palin was in a class by herself as quite possibly the worst VP candidate in American history, (can anyone name a worse one in major party history?) then couple factor #1 with 2) McCain’s age, and I just don’t understand the claim that the Palin factor was just like any other election where one might say something like “Biden beats out Palin any day of the week.” It was much worse than that, much worse than “oh, Bentsen would probably be better than Quayle.” There’s simply parallel in American history that I can think of.

  20. Mike

    Phil everything you say is subjective. Just like my saying that I think it was a herd mentality that led many voters to Obama.

    You say Palin was the worst veep candidate in history. Interesting opinion. I say that unlike McCain and Bush and Kerry and Gore and Clinton and Dole and on and on, there was this sort of aura that sprung up around the Obama candidacy that made it the “cool” thing to do to vote for Obama, as a GENERAL observation. How many first time voters voted for Obama because he was the hip, cool, youthful candidate without knowing his policy positions? How many people voted for him because he was so “forward thinking” and “takes us to a better place” or whatever other cliche is out there that gave people those thrills up their legs?

  21. bud

    Mike I’m sure there are always plenty of people who vote for president based on some perceived “sex appeal” or other enigmatic factors. Brad is a perfectly good example. His own editorial endorsement laid out the reasons to vote for Kerry over Bush in 2004 but he somehow concluded that Bush was the right choice. That still ranks as the most bizarre editorial I’ve ever read – the gold standard for the just plain weird endorsement. Maybe Brad accidently had dairy products that day and was deluded.

  22. Brad

    Bud, it only didn’t make sense to you because you disagree with me, 180 degrees, on the one issue that it turned on: Iraq.

    I made it very clear.

  23. Brad

    The irony about that is that you would probably AGREE with me on this point: That Iraq was an issue that overrode others. If one candidate had been swearing on a stack of Bibles that he would pull every American soldier out of Iraq on the day he was inaugurated, you would have voted for that guy in spite of disagreeing with him on a bunch of other things.

    I, too, put Iraq ahead of all those other issues where I preferred Kerry. Only I was trying to make sure we didn’t get a president who WOULD pull out…

    Kerry, of course, was denying that he would. But I could see which way the Democratic Party was going, and I was confident (still am) that there was NO WAY Kerry would resist the “pullout NOW” element in his party, once it became the majority. Which it was close to being…

  24. Steven Davis

    If dairy makes Brad deluded, I wonder what the hell bud is allergic to that he’s overdosing himself on on a daily basis.

  25. bud

    Even Obama has failed to pull all the troops out. And unlike Kerry he was opposed to sending them in in the first place. Not sure voting really makes much difference. Or am I just being too cynical?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *