J. Scott Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2011.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2011. J. Scott Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Forgive me for not breathlessly posting sooner on the news that Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, has announced he won't running for president in 2012.
To which some readers will say "who?" Which is why I wasn't in such a rush. And why in part Thune decided against running.
But remember, only a few years ago there was another lanky senator who was then mostly unknown to Americans and is now in the White House Oval Office.
So it can happen. Just not for Thune. At least not in 2012. Thune explained that he wants to be where the action is now and that's the Senate.
There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now. So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America's future here in the trenches of the United States Senate.
Tim Alberta at the National Journal notes that while Thune isn't well known outside South Dakota and Washington, his presumed interest in making the 2012 race had already factored into the thinking of some GOP presidential hopefuls:
Thune's potential candidacy loomed large in the minds of other possible contenders. His profile, a young, conservative Midwesterner, could have appealed to the same demographics as candidates like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, or even Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Both Pawlenty and Daniels will benefit without Thune in the race.
Although he's passing on the chance to seek the presidency in 2012, Thune is only 50 years old, and he will remain a top contender for a future bid. After running unopposed in his 2010 re-election bid, Thune now boasts a war chest containing more than $7 million — an already-imposing amount that should continue to increase in the years leading up to the 2016 election.
Because South Dakota borders Iowa, Thune might have had some appeal in that early GOP caucus. But Pawlenty of Minnesota share a larger border with Iowa so that no doubt neutralized one possible advantage Thune might've otherwise had.
As Alberta points out, Thune is young and will still be relatively young in 2016. Bowing out now gives him plenty more time to work on raising his name-recognition.