The Mississippi governor surprised the political world by announcing he will not seek the Republican nomination in 2012 Updated 4:22 p.m. -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour surprised the political world Monday by announcing that he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.
"I will not be a candidate for president next year," he said in a statement.
Barbour had been expected to make a final decision about whether to run by the end of April, and with his strong national ties and recent testing-the-waters appearance in New Hampshire, many observers expected him to enter the fray.
"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."
Barbour's decision to stay in the Mississippi governor's mansion is likely to leave the field without a strong Southern contender and will turn his endorsement into a sought-after one as other candidates seek to strengthen their positions heading into the Southern primaries. "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 former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty in a statement reacting to the news. "He is one of the Republican Party's great leaders and an outstanding Governor for Mississippi. When Republicans defeat Barack Obama next year, it will be thanks to the solid party foundation Haley helped build. We wish he and Marsha the best and thank them for all that they do for their state, their Nation, and the Republican Party."