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Mr. Barbour doubted he would be a candidate in 2012, saying, “I can’t just say flatly no. But I would be very surprised. My wife would be even more surprised.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” another Republican often mentioned as a possible 2012 candidate - former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney - said people in public life ought to be held to a higher standard.

“Not everybody is a governor or a senator or a president. And we expect people to live by a higher standard because what they do is going to be magnified,” Mr. Romney said. “The things they care about will be hurt. And the culture of the nation and the people who follow them will be hurt.”

The 2008 Republican primary hopeful said considering a 2012 run was “way beyond my horizon at this point.”