The book notes Barbour conducted a meet and greet on April 14 in New Hampshire, followed the next night by a speech to the Charleston County Republican Party in South Carolina (and winning their straw poll), had already stumped in Iowa, raised money in California, and presented a presidential style economic speech in Chicago. He looked primed to announce in May of 2011.
“He laid off the bourbon, losing twenty pounds, and slipped away to the Mayo Clinic in April to secure a clean bill of health,” the authors write, “His trips to the early states were going well; he was receiving a warm reception for his stances on three big issues on which he planned to run on Romney’s (and much of the party’s) left: immigration reform, a fairly quick exit from Afghanistan, and cutting defense spending.”
But Barbour himself wasn’t convinced. He had seen former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson’s 2008 campaign implode; didn’t want to run based on ego like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and considered even a successful run a “life sentence” with two years to run, and potentially eight years to govern. He was concerned about his family and their lives.
“It would be hard for anybody from Mississippi to beat the first black president, Barbour told Daniels, who didn’t disagree,” the book recounts, “Barbour thought back to 2008 and how Katrina had dashed his plans. In presidential politics, he believed, your time only comes around once, and maybe that was it – maybe, Haley thought, he’d missed his moment.”
On April 25, Barbour convened a conference call with his campaign and told them he didn’t “have the fire in my belly to make this race.”
There is more on Barbour’s insights and impact on the 2012 campaign including his work on a “white-knight scenario” to recruit Daniels or Christie or another Republican to enter the race late, sweep the final states, and take the battle to the convention in Tampa to select the nominee. For those details and other juicy tidbits, you’ve got to read the book.