Retiring Sen. Bayh: Independent could run for the White House in 2012

An independent candidate could be a significant factor in the 2012 presidential campaign, retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) predicted today.

Bayh, who cited excessive partisanship as one of his reasons for leaving the Senate, said the time is ripe for a centrist to run for President.

"This is—for lack of a better phrase—'a Ross Perot moment,'" Bayh said in an interview with Business Week.

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Bayh predicted that the political climate in 2012 could mimic the conditions in 1992, when Perot ran against Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush.

"You remember back then, the deficit was unsustainably high. The economy was struggling. People had a sense that Washington was broken, and they looked for someone from outside the system," Bayh said. "If the economy does not improve and these deficits and debt are just allowed to run up, and you get a reaction in the global credit markets that causes a collapse of the dollar or a dramatic spike in interest rates, that could be the kind of thing that would really galvanize public opinion against everyone in Washington—regardless of party."

Nevertheless, Bayh suggested he won't be that candidate. The Indiana Democrat said he's previously thought about launching a bid for president, but is not considering a campaign for the White House anytime soon.

"Well, the speculation was flattering, and there was a time when I thought about [running for President]. Fortunately, I went back on my meds and got those aspirations out of my mind," he said.

Bayh said he "support[s] the president" and Obama "will be a strong favorite for reelection, certainly as the economy improves."