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The blog buzz on Barbour

From NBC’s Ali Weinberg
Bloggers on the left and the right shared their theories on why Haley Barbour decided not to run for president.

Conservatives attributed Barbour’s bowing out to low poll numbers and, as Barbour himself noted in a statement, his lack of passion for the race. They also looked at the effect his absence would have on the rest of the 2012 field.

NRO’s Robert Costa noted that the dissolution of Team Barbour due to, as he wrote, meager poll results, means a new slate of “free agent” operatives and donors are up for grabs by other candidates. 

Barbour hadn’t made much of an impression in the polls, clocking in at around 1 percent, but the former Republican National Committee chairman had an outsize influence in the world of GOP insiders. Today, other candidates have one less competitor to worry about and a host of liberated political professionals looking for somewhere to land.

Later in his piece, Costa also wrote that Barbour’s other considerations for dropping out probably included his wife’s reluctance and “the political freight he carried as a former lobbyist and Southern governor potentially running against the nation’s first African-American president... Barbour also had the challenge of representing the establishment at a time of anti-establishment ferment.”

Red State’s Dan McLaughlin seemed to praise Barbour for realizing that he might be good on paper but didn’t want it enough, before he got too committed.

Add Haley Barbour now to the list of people who simply were not willing to make that 100% commitment, and Gov. Barbour knows himself and the task well enough not to pretend otherwise and run halfway.

McLaughlin also speculated on who else is out there, if not Barbour.

The roster of candidates who are genuinely serious GOP contenders - especially if you look at who has won a statewide election some time in the past decade - remains limited. All eyes will now turn to the people who remain on the fence (Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee) or denying they’re interested (Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan) to see who else might round out the field. In particular, the field now seems especially thin on Southerners for a party with so many officeholders in the region.

Hot Air’s Allahpundit suggested Barbour’s decision was not because he wasn’t passionate about a bid, but because he is a clear-eyed pragmatist who calculated that he had a better chance of getting a job in the White House not by running himself, but by hooking on to another candidate’s rising star – perhaps that of Barbour’s friend and rumored candidate, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

[I]f Daniels does run, he’s now practically guaranteed Barbour’s endorsement and fundraising help. Barbour might not make it to the White House on his own, but if he joins forces with Mitch the Knife, he could get there as VP, chief of staff, or in any number of other roles. He’s a bottom-line kind of guy, and that’d be a shrewd bottom-line calculation. Now all Daniels has to do is play ball.

Liberal bloggers chose to take shots at elements of Barbour’s personal and professional life that would have hurt him as the race gained momentum.

John Cole at Balloon Juice:

Looks like the polling numbers for “fat redneck” came in at less than awesome.

Daily Kos’ David Nir also mentioned some of Barbour’s liabilities when discussing his dropping out:

Personally, I never saw a path to victory for Barbour, not with his love for the Confederate flag and his long history as a lobbyist. But for a while, I had imagined that Barbour had conned himself into thinking he could win. I guess reality - namely, the reality that he'd be trading a cushy retirement for the rigors of the campaign trail with a limited chance at winning - won out. 

Nir also asked whom, of the remaining presidential hopefuls, Barbour’s decision would benefit most.

Now speculation will turn to who else in the GOP field Barbour's absence benefits most. Is it Mike Huckabee, who probably has the greatest regional appeal in the South? Tim Pawlenty, who, like Barbour, has managed to fool the Beltway into thinking he's "reasonable"?