WASHINGTON (CNN) - When a leading Republican public official visits New Hampshire and Iowa back-to-back, it sparks speculation of a 2012 run for the Republican presidential nomination. And that's exactly what Haley Barbour's doing this week. But the Mississippi governor is playing down talk of presidential politics.
Barbour speaks at a state GOP fundraising event in New Hampshire tomorrow. New Hampshire traditionally holds the first primary in the race for the White House. Thursday, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee attends a fundraiser in Iowa for that state's GOP. The Iowa caucuses kick of the presidential primary season.
To top it off, Barbour campaigned Monday in Virginia with Bob McDonnell, the state's gubernatorial candidate. The contests for Virginia and New Jersey's governorships are the two biggest political battles of the year.
But Barbour appears to be waving off presidential politics. At a news conference in Washington Tuesday, where he teamed up with House Republicans to discuss health care reform, Barbour was asked when he's going to make a decision on running for president.
"Probably never," said Barbour. "But, you know Gov. Sununu called me and said he'd like to have somebody come up to New Hampshire who wasn't running for president to talk about party building and I told him I'm your man."
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu is now the state's Republican Party chairman.
The official line on Barbour's travel is that his trips are in his role as a prominent GOP leader and as the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Next year, Barbour takes over as RGA chairman.
According to one of Barbour's longtime political confidantes, a 2012 run could be in the cards. But the adviser noted that Barbour is also a political junkie: as a former party chairman, he enjoys meeting with state parties and new candidates around the country to talk about upcoming elections.
"I think Haley is probably like a lot of other governors and senators who think, 'I could be that guy or gal who could lead the party,' and it may be that Haley is the person," said the confidante, who requested anonymity to speak freely about Barbour's ambitions. "But first-things-first. This year, and 2010, is first-things. Let's tend to those and then we'll see about 2012."