Sen. John Thune has been collecting advice inside and outside of Washington on whether he could mount a credible campaign for the White House in 2012. Thune acknowledges the conversations and says hes months away from reaching a conclusion.
Sen. John Thune has quietly begun seeking the counsel of his closest Senate colleagues and an array of party operatives as he considers a bid for the White House in 2012.
“I’m having a lot of discussions with people whose opinions I value. You try and have as many data points as you can to make a decision like that,” the South Dakota Republican said in a brief interview with Roll Call on Tuesday. “I continue to visit with potential contributors and to visit with people both in my state and around the country.”
Thune acknowledged that his consultations are ongoing and extensive and have included a wide range of Republicans, including fellow Senators, political operatives with previous experience running GOP presidential campaigns, and a national network of financial contributors whose support he would need in order to wage a competitive presidential bid. Thune said he continues to view the prospect of running favorably, although his final decision could still be a few months off.
On the list of Republican Members whose advice Thune is seeking — if he hasn’t spoken with them already — are Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), who sought the party’s nomination in 1996 and 2000. Thune is personally close with GOP Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Jim DeMint (S.C.), both conservative favorites, and could discuss the matter with them as well.
Thune was uncontested for re-election on Nov. 2, cruising to a second term six years after defeating then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in a dogfight. As a consequence of the money Thune raised to run his expensive 2004 campaign — and the “giant-killer” status he earned by winning — he quickly developed a national profile and was seen as a potential presidential candidate.
Now a member of the Senate Republican leadership as Policy Committee chairman, Thune is gauging his prospects in the GOP presidential primary and a general election against President Barack Obama. He is attempting to figure out through his consultations whether he has something unique to offer as a candidate, whether he can raise the necessary resources and whether he has a pathway to victory.
“It’s particularly helpful to talk to people who’ve been through it before or people who have good instincts about politics to start with. Those are both resources that I’ve relied on,” he said. “Some of my colleagues are good in terms of input that way as well as some of the people around town and around the country who’ve been through this.”
According to sources, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is among the individuals Thune is likely to consult. The Mississippi Republican is now a lobbyist downtown with Patton Boggs, but the two have a long-standing personal relationship, socializing together with their wives every so often.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.