Sources tell NRO that the reaction at Barbour headquarters this afternoon was “shock,” that the governor kept the decision to himself until minutes before he released the statement. It is believed that only Henry Barbour, the governor’s nephew and senior political adviser, and a cluster of top aides were aware of the decision before today.

Indeed, the news caught even close Barbour allies off guard. “I’m both surprised and disappointed,” says Jim Nicholson, who worked with Barbour at the RNC then succeeded him as chairman. “I actually thought that he would run. The last time that I spoke with him, I got the impression that he was going to run.”…

By bowing out, Barbour leaves the field devoid of an anti-interventionist. Still, his brief dip into those waters drew notice from fellow potential candidates. John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is mulling a bid, tells NRO that Barbour was “right to question nation-building as a foreign policy,” and was a respected contender. “We should advance American interests, not engage in international nanny-ism,” Bolton says.