(The Hill) — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) took himself out of the running for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday.

Barbour surprised most observers by saying in a statement that he wouldn’t run for president in 2012.

“I will not be a candidate for president next year,” he said. “This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.”

The Mississippi governor had been seen as a favorite by political observers for his long experience in Republican politics, having served as a chairman of the Republican National Committee and, most recently, as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) during the 2010 cycle. He is a strong fundraiser with a Rolodex filled with some of the most powerful names in GOP politics.