Mississippi Gov Haley Barbour, long considered a fairly strong contender in 2012, has scratched himself from the race today.

Barbour says it was a difficult, personal decision. But he said that it would have been an all-consuming effort to the exclusion of all else. He says he cannot offer “absolute fire in the belly” and “total certainty” that a presidential candidate should have.

Barbour, like virtually the rest of the field, has his flaws, the biggest of which are his ties the much maligned lobbyist industry. He also had a southern drawl and gained gobs of national attention during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In any event, you can take Barbour off of your handicap sheet.

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