Many have considered John Thune one of the top rising conservative politicians in the country. Now, he’s the third highest ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, so is he about to take the next big step in the political world?
Referred to many times as the “dark horse” of the VP contest, John Thune has been talked about as a potential VP nominee ever since he became one of the first people to endorse Mitt Romney for President. Thune is the junior U. S Senator from South Dakota, and current Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
He first burst onto the seen when he was elected U.S. Rep for South Dakota’s At-large congressional district in 1996. Then in 2002, he challenged incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, but lost by only 524 votes. He then decided to run against Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in the 2004 Senate election. This race was of the most expensive races in 2004, and was almost a dead heat throughout the entire campaign. When it was all said and done, Thune wone by 4,508 votes, which made Thune the first person since Barry Goldwater defeated Ernest McFarland in 1952 to defeat an incumbent Floor Leader. Since this election, Thune has risen up the ranks in the Senate to become one of the most respected members of Congress.
Despite being a long shot, Thune has all of the qualities that Romney is said to being wanting in a VP. He’s low-key, respected, has Washington experience and comes from the Midwest. It also helps that he is a very natural speaker, which will help overcome the stiffness of Romney.
Thune flirted with running for the Presidential nomination, and Senator Mitch McConnell said that he should run because, “”He’s a very sharp, capable individual — good speaker, good leadership qualities, which I see on display every week in the Senate. I’m a big John Thune fan.”
Thune has met with Romney to discuss the campaign, but no one knows if VP possibilities were discussed in this meeting. However, the way Thune has handled the media questions shows that he is definitely a contender. When asked about the job, he replied, ” I’ve also said you don’t rule any options out, because if you are in public life because you want to make a difference … obviously, you have to be open to those kind of possibilities.” This is the best response I’ve heard from any potential nominee.
Then when asked if he is being vetted by the Romney campaign, he responded, ” There’s a process. We don’t talk about the process.” This says that he knows something that a lot of people do not.
The biggest downfall for Thune is that he isn’t well known, and isn’t that exciting. Most people have never heard of the man, but that also comes with the advantage that he is not very controversial. However, building up a name recognition might not be something this campaign will want to spend time doing in this election.
I had honestly completely written Thune off as a potential VP nominee until I started looking through stuff to write this post. Now, I’ve moved him to the top of my list. He’s young and very likeable. If you look back through most of the recent VPs, with the exception of Al Gore, they have come from states that were solidly leaning towards that candidate anyway, not from swing states. Also, adding a fresh face to the ticket might actually give Romney the chance to rebrand himself to the country, which would give the campaign some more life to it. I would not be surprised at all to see a Romney/Thune ticket.
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