We should be worried when candidates like Haley Barbour don’t want to run for president.

Monday evening’s NationalJournal.com homepage said it all: “Paul’s In” read the headline over a picture of Rep. Ron Paul. Over an accompanying shot of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: “Barbour’s Out.”

Let’s review the bidding as we head into our next presidential election. Paul, an 11-term Texas lawmaker who took his last presidential bid all the way to the Republican National Convention floor despite having a grand total of 53 delegates to Sen. John McCain’s 2,000-plus, is inspired to try for the White House a third time, at age 75. Donald Trump, an unapologetic self-promoter best known for his extravagant lifestyle and more extravagant comb-over, draws massive amounts of media attention on his first foray into New Hampshire. Sarah Palin, who quit after two years as Alaska governor and now has followed Trump onto reality TV, remains a potential GOP White House contender.

Meanwhile, Barbour, a politician who has gained respect and friendships on both sides of the political aisle, who served his party twice as a national leader, and who helped his state achieve a remarkable recovery after the double-whammy disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, has decided he just doesn’t want the White House that badly. Should we be surprised? Maybe not. Should we be worried? You betcha.

National Journal
4/28/11