April 25, 2011 / 9:56 PM / 6 years ago

Washington Extra - Fire in the belly

4 Min Read

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - Haley Barbour is out. Why, one might ask, is Mississippi's popular governor opting against a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012? Well, he says he's just not sure he's got the "absolute fire in the belly" that supporters deserve from their candidate.

Maybe that's the kind of self-discovery that comes on the pre-campaign trail, in early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where he had visited in recent weeks. Perhaps he's not alone in feeling not up for the job. The Republican field is unusually subdued at a time in the campaign calendar when it should be hopping with activity.

If you are a good Republican candidate, 2016 is probably much more appealing. No incumbent and no Barack Obama, who, for all his declining poll numbers these days, is still a hard candidate to beat.

But Barbour might have excluded himself from 2016, too. He said he didn't have the fire for "embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else." If he doesn't have it now, can he have it in four years? Well, fire does have a way of coming back just when you think it's extinguished.

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Here are our top stories from Washington:

Republican Barbour says no to 2012 White House run

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, unable to break out of a crowded Republican field, said on Monday he will not run for U.S. president in 2012 and suggested he did not have the "fire in the belly" for a race. Barbour, 63, polled only 2 percent in a Gallup poll last week that gave a first look at Republican preferences for 2012, way behind other rivals. Making matters worse, he had back surgery two weeks ago. [ID:nN25213760]

U.S. mulling sanctions on Syrian officials

The Obama administration is considering sanctions against senior officials in the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to ratchet up pressure for an end to a violent crackdown on protesters, a U.S. official said. The measures, which could freeze those officials' assets and ban them from doing business in the United States, would likely come in the form of an executive order. But a final decision has yet to be made on the timing of such a move, and there was no word on whether Assad might be among those targeted for sanctions, the administration source said. [ID:nN25199030]

US court won't speed up Obama healthcare law ruling

The Supreme Court refused to speed up a ruling on President Obama's healthcare overhaul, his signature domestic achievement that has provoked a fierce political and legal battle. The justices rejected Virginia's request to invoke a rarely used procedure to bypass the normal appeals process and move quickly to a decision on the law's constitutionality. [ID:nN25198291]

U.S. watchdog questions Afghan police management

Afghanistan's government does not know exactly how many people work for its national police force, creating a risk that foreign funds for police salaries are being abused, a watchdog said. Since 2002, about $1.26 billion has been disbursed for Afghan police salaries from an international donors' trust fund run, the audit said. But without a central police payroll system, in place, it is difficult to tell "where the money is actually going." [ID:nN25547523]

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