WASHINGTON – Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour announced Monday that he will not run for president in 2012.

"I will not be a candidate for president next year," he wrote on his website. "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 current chairman of the Republican Governors Association and former head of the Republican National Committee, Barbour is often described as the consummate Beltway player, and was widely floated among insiders as serious contender for the GOP nomination.

"A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else," Barbour said, thanking his supporters for their efforts in encouraging him to run. "His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required."

The Mississippi governor has recently come under fire for a series of racially-charged remarks, including his praise of the Citizens Council, a nonviolent white supremacist group that supported segregation.

The major Republican candidates who have announced exploratory committees include former Govs. Mitt Romney (MA) and Tim Pawlenty (MN), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (GA).