SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Two of the most prominent potential White House contenders will wait until late in the Spring to make public their decision whether or not to mount runs for president.
In interviews Thursday, both Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said they had difficult upcoming legislative sessions to consider before making their plans public. That, they said, would take their focus away from making a final decision until April or May.
"I don't feel any time pressure. I have a responsibility to the citizens of Mississippi. We have a legislative session with a very tough budget and I'm going to fulfill my responsibility," Barbour said. Asked whether he was considering the race, Barbour conceded: "I am. And my family, we have begun to talk about it, and some people whose opinions I respect. But I haven't asked anybody to sit down and kind of lay out what a budget would be and a timeline."
"I'm going to spend the next five to six months effecting another round of big reforms in our state. We've got a great opportunity to do some things we haven't gotten to do yet," added Daniels, who governs a state where Republicans just took over the state House. "Maybe in a spare moment along the line I'll think about it."
Barbour said there is no benefit to announcing a bid early. For one, the earlier a campaign begins, the earlier it begins spending money, he said. Plus, juggling two responsibilities at once means one is committing fully to neither.
"Once a person becomes a candidate or perceived as a candidate, if that person isn't dedicating the vast majority of his or her time to running, then it actually hurts them. So I'm not going to make a decision to run until I both decide that I should do it, and I'm prepared to pretty well go most if not full-time from that point forward," he said.
But waiting so long, Daniels acknowledged, leads to the risk that other candidates will be too far ahead for him to catch up.
"It may be a moot point by that time," Daniels said of his April or May timeline. But the delayed start to the contest, he said, "is great, by the way, just as a citizen. Much less of that stuff we have to listen to."
Barbour said his consideration includes whether he wants to spend the next decade, which for him amounts to the rest of his working career, involved in a single pursuit.
"This is all-consuming, somebody running for president of the United States. Running is the easy part. If you get it, you're talking about all-consuming. Do you want to give ten years of your life? Because you have to be prepared to do that," Barbour said. "You have to be prepared to run, win and serve two terms. Whether you end up succeeding or not, you have to be prepared to do that, and that's a very big commitment. You know, I'm 63 years old. So I'd spend the rest of my useful life essentially doing nothing but this. There's a lot to think about, because if you do it you owe the country to be in whole hog."
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another possible presidential contender attending Republican Governors Association meetings this week, has also said he will wait to make a final decision until the new year. The late start is remarkably later than the 2008 cycle.
Barbour also told reporters Thursday he was happy he had chosen Pawlenty as vice chairman of the RGA. Pawlenty's tenure, Barbour said, would help if the Minnesotan decides to go forward with a White House bid.
"My belief was that he was thinking about running for president. To run for president, you've really got to learn to raise money. But the Minnesota campaign finance laws are such that the governor of Minnesota never really had much opportunity to raise money. And so I appointed him to this because I thought it would be good for him if he decided to run, but I also thought he had every incentive to go out and raise a bunch of money for us so he'd learn how, and we'd be the beneficiary of that. And I turned out to be right, he raised a bunch of money for us," Barbour said. "I was proud of myself."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who will take over the RGA from Perry after winning election today, said that move should be an indication he will not be a candidate for the White House, a position he has reiterated for months.