Haley Barbour of Mississippi Bows Out of 2012 Run

Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi announced he would not seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former high powered Washington lobbyist, said in a statement he could not totally commit himself to the "all-consuming effort" required for a White House candidate.

"A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-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," he said.

Barbour went on to thank 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."

Though not mention in his statement, his wife, Marsha Barbour, told the ABC television affiliate in Biloxi, Mississippi earlier this month that she found the prospect of a presidential "overwhelming" and that it "horrified" her. "It's been a lot to be first lady of the state of Mississippi and this would be 50 times bigger," she said in the interview aired on April 2 by WLOX in Biloxi. "It's a huge sacrifice for a family to make."

Beyond his wife's hesitancy, Barbour's decision was likely impacted by his lackluster performance. In polling to date among likely GOP voters Barbour placed consistently in the low single digits, though Barbour did win a straw poll of Charleston County (South Carolina) GOP officials just last week. Still despite being well-known in national political circles, Barbour remains largely a name unknown to most Americans.

Barbour's decision to not seek the GOP nomination likely makes the candidacy of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels increasingly likely. More from Politico.

Santorum Takes Step Toward 2012 Bid

The former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum has announced plans to form what he described as a “testing-the-waters committee” during an interview with Greta van Susteren on Fox News Channel Wednesday night. In forming a presidential exploratory committee, the former two term Senator most noted for his homophobic remarks can raise money for a presidential bid without formally declaring a candidacy.

Santorum followed up his appearance with nan email to supporters, in which he wrote, “Tonight during an appearance on the Fox News Channel, I announced that I established a Presidential Testing-the-Waters effort, which will allow me to begin the process of raising the funds necessary to consider a formal candidacy.”

Santorum sits near the bottom of most early polls in single digits territory, but his regressive social conservatism marked by staunch opposition to abortion and gay marriage makes him attractive to the religious conservatives who hold sway in the Iowa and South Carolina. His campaign slogan is "To Make America, America Again." Yes, he italicized the second America. We can only infer that he aims to drag the country back to some bigoted, god-fearing past.

Just this past weekend, Santorum scored a decisive victory in a straw poll held among Republicans in Greenville county, South Carolina's largest county. Santorum took 31 percent of the vote from a group of 413 activists coming in ahead of Newt Gingrich who won 14 percent and ahead of both Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump who each won 7 percent of the vote. It really is quite the bumper crop of regressive misanthropes.

Rick Santorum "Pulled Along" into 2012 Race

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has told the Des Moines Register that he feels "being pulled along" into the 2012 Presidential contest and that he's "very encouraged by everything that’s happening.”

Since that first visit last October, when Santorum spoke to a few dozen social conservatives in Des Moines and gave a speech in Dubuque, he has logged four more Iowa trips, more than any GOP prospect weighing a 2012 campaign.

Santorum has handed out three checks to Iowa Republicans and campaigned for seven. He has also enlisted the help of a small circle of Iowa advisers to help him make inroads, including Nick Ryan, a longtime senior aide to former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle. And on Tuesday, Santorum met with about 80 Republicans in Gull Point State Park near Milford. Santorum and other Republicans eyeing the caucuses have made Iowa contacts while campaigning for candidates running this fall. But Tuesday’s event marked Santorum’s first in Iowa strictly aimed at putting him in touch with party activists.

Santorum also headlined four events for candidates across western and northwest Iowa on Monday and Tuesday, in key Republican hot spots such as Sioux Center and Spencer. He’s the first caucus prospect to dig that deeply into that GOP-heavy part of the state at this early stage in the campaign.

I noted this earlier in the week but the Iowa Republican polled 399 likely Iowa Republican voters on their preference come 2012. Former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee finished on top garnering 22 percent while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finished second with 18 percent. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House from Georgia, finished "surprisingly well" in their view with 14 percent in third place. Sarah Palin finished fourth with 11 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul garnered 5 percent, while Pawlenty, and South Dakota Senator John Thune each received 1 percent. Former US Senator Rick Santorum garnered support in the poll but it did not surpass the one percent threshold. He clearly has some work to do.

It is difficult to foresee Rick "man on dog" Santorum differentiating himself in what's likely to be a crowded field. He's not especially well versed on economic issues which will likely dominate both the GOP contes and the general election. Neither is Sarah Palin but she has a ready made cult following though I suspect that her support will continue to erode slowly but surely over the next 18 months.

Of course a year and five months out, anything can happen but Santorum faces an uphill climb on fundraising and name recognition. The field of 2012 Republican prospects includes far better-known names, including national figures Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney not to mention next door neighbor Tim Pawlenty who has also made frequent visits to the Hawkeye State.

 

Quick Hits

Some other items making the rounds today.

The Iowa Republican polled 399 likely Iowa Republican voters on their preference come 2012. Former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee finished on top garnering 22 percent while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finished second with 18 percent. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House from Georgia, finished "surprisingly well" in their view with 14 percent in third place. Sarah Palin finished fourth with 11 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul garnered 5 percent, while Pawlenty, and South Dakota Senator John Thune each received 1 percent. Former US Senator Rick Santorum garnered support in the poll but it did not surpass the one percent threshold. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Texas Governor Rick Perry did not register any support in the poll. Twenty three percent of those surveyed remain undecided.

Not mentioned above is Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico Governor, much to the chagrin of Andrew Sullivan who today has a post on the libertarian-minded Johnson entitled A Man Who Deserves to be Viable in 2012.

Down in the Palmetto State, Alvin Green said he is not quitting the race even after his indictment on a felony charge of obscenity. The Chair of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, Carol Fowler, issued a statement calling for Greene to resign from the race.

A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has granted a stay preventing the resumption of gay marriages in California until at least the end of the year. The Ninth Circuit panel - Judges Edward Leavy, Michael Hawkins and Sidney Thomas - also expedited the case's appeal. During the week of Dec. 6, a separate, randomly selected panel of the Ninth Circuit will take up the request by Prop. 8 proponents to throw out Walker's ruling. More from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Obama Administration is planning to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, the latest step aimed at encouraging more contact between people in both countries, while leaving intact the decades-old embargo against the island’s Communist government, according to Congressional and administration officials. The New York Times has more on the story. This move is not likely to please many. On the right, any reapprochement with Cuba is too much. On the left as long as the embargo remains in place, it is just window dressing. Moreover, the US has no leverage to speak of. It is now Spain and Brazil that have been able to extract concessions from Cuba. In July, the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos secured the release of 52 political dissendents held in Cuban prisons.

Jeb Bows Out, Thune Prepping While Santorum Heads to Iowa

Dubbed the "the candidate hiding in plain sight" and deemed by many especially among mainline conservatives and neo-conservatives as perhaps the best hope for the GOP to win back the White House, former two term Florida Governor Jeb Bush today quashed speculation that had been building in recent weeks that he was considering a presidential run in 2012.

The argument for Jeb Bush ran something like this: each of the other presumed front runners have obvious perhaps fatal flaws and thus only Jeb Bush can pull together the disparate threads of the GOP. Moreover, he has strong conservative credentials, is the only Republican ever to win two terms of the Sunshine state, has a political pedigree second to none even if tarnished by his older brother, can appeal to the all-important Hispanic population with his Mexican-born wife in tow, is perceived as less divisive on social issues who would thus appeal to independents, would do well in his home state that electoral vote rich battleground state that has often decided presidential elections and unlike older brother can speak in complete sentences.

Despite the growing speculation that he was at least considering a run in 2012, today when asked Louisville’s ABC affiliate WHAS following an event for Rand Paul if he was eying the White House, Jeb Bush was adamant. “I am not running for president,” he said.

Politico has more on Jeb Bush's denial of interest.

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