In what many political observers see as a stunning surprise, pro-life Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi says he will not seek the Republican nomination or president to face pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2012.
Barbour was widely expected to run and his vast fundraising and party connections were expected to boost him up from the low poll standing his currently holds to a higher run allowing him to compete with potential candidates like Mitt Romney or potentially Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee should they choose to run.
“I will not be a candidate for president next year,” Barbour said in a statement today. “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,” Barbour continued. “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 gave some hint as to the long-term commitment required to run in 2012 and, if winning, to seek re-election for another four years and indicated it was not for him.
“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” he said. “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.”
“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful,” the governor added.
With many Republican voters looking for candidates who are not part of the 2008 election cycle and from outside Washington, Barbour’s decision makes it more likely Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will run or that voters might be attracted to potential candidates like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Donald Trump, Rep. Michelle Bachmann or others.
Barbour concerned some pro-life advocates when he initially embraced the Mitch Daniels social issues truce, but he eventually backed down from that and forcefully said pro-life issues matter in the 2012 election.
As he fought back tears talking about his own pro-life record in Mississippi, Barbour promised in the address that he would have nothing to do with a social issues truce Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has advocated. He promised he would present his pro-life credentials and contrast them in a contest with Obama should he become the Republican nominee.
“We’re doing everything that we can to stop abortion in our state,” Barbour said, according to Politico. “And if I get elected president, I will come into office with that attitude. And that’s about 180 degrees different from the current president.”
The governor touted a top rating Mississippi received several years ago from Americans United for Life, a pro-life group that evaluates states based on the pro-life laws they pass on a wide range of issues. Mississippi has remained in the top 10 in the AUL rankings ever since.
On Obama, the governor compared a law in his state requiring doctors and medical staff to save the live of an unborn child who survives a failed abortion and, referring to the 2008 presidential campaign, said he was shocked that such a law was necessary and that Obama refused to support it in his home state of Illinois.
“Barack Obama fought such a law, and defeated such a law, in Illinois,” Barbour said.
“After an abortion in Chicago,” Barbour started to say, according to a Politico report, he had to stop to catch himself from crying. He continued, “the medical personnel are not able to save the life of a child. To me that’s inexplicable. And we changed the law in Mississippi so that could never happen in our state.”
The conservative and Christian activists at the event applauded heartily.
On the issue of the truce, Barbour, last year, initially supported the Daniels truce but he backed away from it in an interview with LifeNews.com at the annual CPAC conservative political conference.
Asked to clarify and explain his position, though he did not say as much directly, Barbour appeared to differentiate between the pro-life policy positions he would promote as president and the focus of the message of a potential presidential campaign.
“To win, we have to talk about the issues people care about,” he said of a potential campaign for president. “Campaigns ought to be on the issues people have on their minds. People voted in 2010 on Obama’s economic policies, energy issue and of course healthcare.”
Barbour said social issues did not have to be set aside or put on the back burner — “I don’t believe that at all. Social issues do matter.”