What Barbour’s Decision Means
The remaining contenders are breathing a sigh of relief — and eyeing his staff.


Robert Costa

Likewise, Brian Perry, a former Barbour spokesman and Mississippi Republican strategist, says that he’s taking Barbour “at his word that he doesn’t want to give up [the] ten years” involved in running for president and serving two terms. “It’s a large sacrifice for anybody to ask of anyone and their family, and I think that he just does not have the desire to do that,” says Perry.

It’s likely that family considerations played some role in Barbour’s decision: His wife, Marsha Barbour, told Mississippi TV station WLOX-TV last month that she considered a presidential run “a huge sacrifice for a family to make,” and said the prospect of a campaign “horrifies” her.

Of course, Barbour was likely fully aware of the political freight he carried as a former lobbyist and Southern governor potentially running against the nation’s first African-American president. A few months ago, he had an appearance on Fox News Sunday that could only be described as brutal, as Chris Wallace probed all his vulnerabilities. Barbour also had the challenge of representing the establishment at a time of anti-establishment ferment. Asked about his low standing in the polls on one show, he joked that he didn’t know he had so many members of his family.

All of that may have contributed to what was ultimately a gut check. Says one source familiar with Team Barbour, “He didn’t want to be the guy who commits his family to a political battle in which his heart is not really invested.”

Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review. Rich Lowry, Katrina Trinko, and Daniel Foster contributed to this piece.