Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has decided against running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Barbour, long a member of the national GOP Party establishment as a one-time chair of the Republican National Committee chair, said he couldn’t guarantee his supporters that he had the all-consuming “fire in the belly” it takes to wage the kind of campaign it takes to get the nomination, let alone to try and beat an incumbent president.
And whatever fire he did have might have been dampened by polls that gave him very little encouragement.
A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll that listed potential Republican candidates indicated he polled at less than one percent. That was actually less than “none” of the above received at three percent.
Barbour didn’t mention polling numbers in a statement he released Monday afternoon.
While Barbour was well known in political circles, he was far from a household name, generally speaking.
Also, he had made some early missteps, the kinds of things that are toxic for a candidate who’s not so well known since they come to define him.
For instance, last year Barbour had to do a lot of explaining after an interview in which he made it sound like the Citizens’ Council in his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss. was a benign group that kept the Ku Klux Klan in check instead of a racist group in its own right.
As a younger politician Barbour told a campaign aide who made a racist remark in the presence of a reporter that if he didn’t behave the aide would be “reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks” according to 1982 New York Times article Ben Smith excerpted in his Politico blog.
And that’s not even mentioning the other part of Barbour’s personal story that was likely not helpful in today’s environment: his history as a lobbyist.