Haley Barbour had his presidential announcement plan lined up: A May 2 launch, followed by a fly-around to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida, before winding up in in Jackson on Saturday the 7th for a big home-state fundraising bash.
He had lined up a likely campaign manager. Rob Collins, a longtime GOP operative who had already traveled with the putative candidate in Florida earlier in the month and was preparing to move his family to Mississippi.
A major fundraising event in New York City was in the works for May, with some of the biggest names in the city’s politics working on preparations, and a rough budget was sketched out: $55 million for the primary with $35 million earmarked for the first five states.
Then he pulled the plug.
Surprising some of his own backers, Barbour revealed on a Monday afternoon conference call that he was not going to run. Asked by adviser Scott Reed, who led the call, if they had questions, none did. They were stunned.