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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bye Bye Barbour, Hello Daniels?

Implying that he lacked sufficient “fire in the belly,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour surprised a lot of people today by announcing he would not, after all, run for president in 2012.
I’m with Jonathan Chait on this one: I never saw how Barbour would become a viable presidential candidate, despite all the money he could raise and all the wild adoration he inspired among Republican insiders. Hard-core conservatives never much trusted him, and as a former lobbyist for foreign governments and tobacco companies, he just had too hard a sale to make to actual voters in both the primaries and a general election. Some Republican pros also shuddered at the prospect of sending a Mississippian with a chronic soft spot for the Good Old Days of segregation up against the first African-American president.
The most interesting legacy of the Barbour proto-candidacy was his apparent decision to defy the party orthodoxy demanding unconditional support for higher defense spending and military adventurism. For now, that niche is again solely occupied by Ron Paul.
Barbour’s decision will instantly increase speculation that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels could jump into the race. They are big buddies, and former Bush administration colleagues. Like Barbour, Daniels is extremely popular among Beltway insiders, who will now, I predict, begin publicly begging him to run (he’s said to be close to a decision).

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