John Thune Keeps His Hand on the Doorknob to the Oval Office

Bookmark and Share In an interview with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, South Dakota Senator John Thune keeps the door open to a run for President in 2012. He tells the paper

The clock is ticking, and adds I do know that candidates are getting out there, and people are starting to gravitate certain directions.

Thune went on to say

At some point, you have to make a gut-level decision about whether or not you think you have something to contribute and add to the debate, and (if) the country needs something in the form of leadership that you can provide,”

Unlike others such as Mike Huckabee who recently told Fox News Your World host, Neil Cavuto, that he will make a decision within the next 8 months, Thune is cognizant of the fact that while the race for the Republican presidential nomination is wide open right now, Republicans yearning for a candidate to defeat President Obama may be quick to take sides. He also understands that several candidates, such as Mitt Romney are doing all they can to consolidate support as quickly as possible.

If Thune were to enter the race, one person who he would automatically draw early support away from is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the only other potential candidate who has a senate record. Thune could also draw some support away from the social conservative foundations of the candidacies of people like Mike Huckabee and Mike Pence.

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To Run or Not To Run? That is the Question

Bookmark and Share Now that the midterm elections have ended and the results indicate that Republican are back off the ropes, the jockeying for position between Republicans who want to run for President in 2012 has begun in earnest and a crowded field it will be.

While Tim Pawlenty, the soon to be former Governor of Minnesota will be releasing his own book in January of 2011 and using the excuse of book tour as reason to traverse the nation, he currently has paid staffers on the ground, organizing things for him in New Hampshire. So he’s running.

Even though no one is talking about it, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is crisscrossing America on a shoe string budget and he is running.

Despite the fact that the G.O.P. took the majority in the House, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence gave up an influential leadership post that is just to die for if you’re looking for power. Yet Mike Pence made it clear that he will be too busy to take on a leadership responsibility in the new House. What will he busy with? His campaign for President.

Mitt Romney stays away from the question and when he can’t avoid it, he answers “it’s too early to talk about the next presidential election”. But as his PAC, Free and Strong America, raises more money than any other candidate’s PAC, Romney most certainly is running. Further evidence of this is Romeny’s attempts to retool his image and give the impression that he understands middle class America.  Hence the shopping trips to Wal-Mart, that he often casually mentions in his speeches. And then there are all those excursions that takes while  flying everywhere in coach instead of first class. With his money, why else would anyone want to be sitting cramped with us folks, when they can be eating full course dinners and sipping champagne in first class?

As I said, he’s running.

The day after the midterm elections, former Senator Rick Santorum traveled to New Hampshire to attend their storied Politics and Eggs breakfast where he stated “We have some real choices to make, and of course, New Hampshire has a disproportionate say in that choice, that’s why I’m here.”

He’s running.

Santorum is not the only one to trek on up to the Granite State. To date between 9 potential candidates, there has been a total of 32 visits there.

Haley Barbour – 3 trips, 3 days
Newt Gingrich – 2 trips, 2 days
Gary Johnson -3 trips, 8 days
George Pataki – 3 trips, 3 days
Tim Pawlenty – 5 trips, 5 days
Mike Pence – 1 trip, 1 day
David Petraeus – 1 trip, 1 day
Mitt Romney – 8 trips, 9 days
Rick Santorum – 6 trips, 6 days

What I find most interesting so far, is who hasn’t been to New Hampshire.

Sarah Palin has been allover the map, but she has not made any grand entrance into the home of the Live Free or Die residents. But the fact that Sarah hasn’t been there, does nott tell us anything. It could either mean that she has no plans to run or that she is in fact considering it but does’nt want to let on by making the hints that such a trip would make.

Other notably absent, often mentioned names include Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Daniels and Huckabee could be playing the same game that Palin may be playing and Huckabee may truly be undecided. After a hardened criminal that Huckabee had given clemency, went and slaughtered several Washington State police officers, his momentum may have come to a standstill.

No matter what, at this point in time, although people like Mitt Romney have dedicated the last two years of their life to running in 2012, no one has given up to do so then Mike Pence. He could have had maintained a truly powerful leadership position as Republican Chairman, especially being in the majority come 2011 but as he stated when he declined to run again for the job. Now that we have restored a Republican majority to the House of Representatives and I have fulfilled my commitment to the Republican Conference, my family and I have begun to look to the future. That future is a run for President, something that will be all the more difficult if the popular Governor from his state, Mitch Daniels, also decides to run. But perhaps Mike Pence knows something that we do not, which is that although Mitch Daniels has never said never to the presidency, he might just not being doing it in 2012.

One thing is for sure though, and that is that the race is on, the positioning has begun and in no time at all the first punches in the Republican presidential primary will soon be thrown.

In the mean time, as relayed by TalkingPointMemo.com, a collection of polls by the Democrat polling service Public Policy Polling released the following breakdown of the shaping potential field of Republican contenders in several states.

Early 2012 Presidential Polls, State by State

No matter how scientific PPP may claim these polls to be, the only thing they do right now is give a good indication of who has more name recognition. But they are still poor examples of national sentiment. Besides PPP did not even mention mention people like Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum in their survey. Still, some of these polls do show the construction of base of support for some that is directly related to the foundation that their previous 2012 campaigns built and which has made some voters loyal to one candidate or another, not merely because of name ID, but for what they stand for. Such is the case in Nevada, Florida, New Hampshire and Connecticut with Mitt Romney and with Huckabee in the Southern states. Nevertheless, these results do give us a cloudy glimpse of the picture and the tough task ahead of some more than others.

In the meantime, everyone is watching closely, how the Republicans lead in the House of Representatives and how the larger size Republican minority in the Senate works with them. Potential Republican presidential contenders are hoping that they lead as they promised and offer America less spending, less government and more freedom. If not they may have to work much harder than they want on polishing up their outsider image and run more like a TEA Party candidate than a Republican candidate. For now it looks like we are on track to pushing the agenda we ran on.  If that is the case, expect a crowded field of candidates who will be trying to lay claim to the conservative revival that put House Republicans back into power.

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John Thune Makes The Case For Republicans in 2010

In the closing weeks of the 2010 Midterm elections, Republicans have turned to South Dakota Senator and potential 2012 Republican candidate for President, John Thune to delivery the response to the President’s weekly national address.

In it, Thune discusses how he has cometo see that most Americans would prefer that the President tried to do something to create jobs for Americans rather than campaigning for Democrats in Congress to keep theirs. He further drives the case for Republicans home as he adds“the Obama Experiment has failed,” and citesthealmost 10 percent unemployment rate and rising health care premiums, all while “the president and his Democrat allies in Congress pushed through their $814 billion stimulus bill,” and a healthcare reform bill that was suppose to solve all these problems.

Early Polling Puts the Pressure on Romney for 2012

Bookmark and Share   Even though most states have not even begun to vote in the 2010 midterm elections, the anticipated Republican tsunami that is at the moment undeniable, has many preparing for the new political landscape that we will be operating in post November 2, 2010. I foresee the G.O.P. taking control of the Senate with 51 seats and winning a whopping 62 seats in the House, a gain that would give Republicans the most seats it has had in the House since 1946.

This Republican rejuvenation has made it hard to contain speculation about 2012 and the presidential election which will begin on November 3rd, 2010.

One entity which is not hiding any early interest in the Republican race for President is Gallup, a veteran polling agency of 70 years.

In their most recent poll of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Gallup selected 12 leading Republicans whom are seriously considering a run for president and in many cases have already stomped in New Hampshire and Iowa, the states with first in the nation presidential primary and caucus.

The question Gallup asked was;

Next I’m going to read a list of people who may be running in the republican primaries for President in the 2012 election. After I read all the names, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, or if you would support someone else. ( The names were given in random order)

The results were as follows:

  •  
    • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney                19%
    • Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin                                     16%
    • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee                       12%
    • Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich                        9%
    • Texas Congressman Ron Paul                                                      7%
    • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty                                           3%
    • Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour                                         3%
    • Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum                       2%
    • South Dakota Senator John Thune                                              2%
    • Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels                                                  2%
    • Indiana Congressman Mike Pence                                               1%
    • Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson                        1%

A total of 11% of respondents had no opinion, 7% stated none of them, 4% gave a mix of different names, 1% said any or all of them, and another 1 % volunteered the name of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Gallup also broke these down reults down even and offered the following interesting analysis;

“Romney and Palin are the top choices of both conservative and moderate or liberal Republicans, and in fact their support is similar among both groups. Of the top five candidates, Huckabee receives support that is most divided along ideological lines; he gets significantly more support among conservative Republicans.”

Support for Top Five Potential 2012 Republican Nomination Candidates, by Political Ideology

“Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, likely fares better among conservative Republicans because the group tends to be more religious. Among Republicans who say religion is important in their lives, Huckabee (14%) is essentially tied with Romney (17%) and Palin (16%).”

Candidates Get More Support in Home Regions

“Typically, support for presidential nomination candidates varies geographically, with candidates generally faring best in their home regions. This appears to be the case with most of the current group of GOP contenders, as Palin’s support is highest in the West, and Huckabee gets somewhat higher support in the South. Romney shows particular strength in both the East, where he was governor of Massachusetts, and the West, where he served as chief executive of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games.”

Support for Top Five Potential 2012 Republican Nomination Candidates, by Region

These results are only a snapshoyt of current thinking and that  thinking is surely going to change over the course of two years.  But the current picture offers a glimpse of who has the most to lose and who has the most to gain as the primary process unfolds.  Clearly, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have captured the imaginations of more Republicans than any others, yet Huckabee, Gingrich and Paul have substantial enough support to make Palin’s and Romney’s frontrunner status very flimsy.

Perhaps most telling are Tim Pawlenty’s numbers. 

As a popular Midwest Governor who received national attention when he came close to be John McCain’s pick for Vice President, you would expect him to be much further ahead of the bottom of the pack than he actually is.  This is especially true when you consider that he is openly pursing the GOP nomination much more aggressively than many of the other names on the list.  With only 3% of Republicans uttering his name as their choice, it would seem that Pawlenty probably has a lot more work to do if he expects to catch on, especially as the rest of the field swings into gear.  So far, it would seem that Tim hasn’t been getting as a big a bang for his buck as he should.

But these numbers do not put as much pressure on Pawlenty as they do for Romeny and Palin.  Pawlenty has little room to slide but a lot of room for advancement.  But Palin and Romney are the ones that are faced with insuring that they remain on the top of the hill…………a position that will be tough to hold for long as the rest of the field starts trying to take their place at the top.

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Thune Admits He’s Looking To Run For President in 2012

Official photograph of John Thune, U.S. Senator.

South Dakota Senator John Thune

Senator Thune admits he is seriously considering a run.

Also admits that Palin will be a factor in his decision.

Bookmark and Share   While the 49 year old Senator from South Dakota is barnstorming the nation to help get a new generation of Republicans elected in 2010, and running in his own reelection campaign, he recently admitted to reporters that he has been discussing the matter of running for President in 2012 with his wife and is seriously considering it.

According to Thune;

“I’d be less than honest if I said I hadn’t thought about it, based upon the amount of encouragement that I’ve received from people across South Dakota and my colleagues here in the Senate and people across the country,” Thune said during a conference call with reporters.

The Senator added;

“It’s something obviously, if you’re interested in maximizing your opportunities to make a difference and to serve, you take a look at,”

Thune stated that he will make a final decision sometime in 2011.

In separate interview, he also made it clear that if Sarah Palin were to run, her entry into the nomination battle would definitely influence his decision.   Thune told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer;

“She is someone who has a tremendous following out there, particularly in some of the early states,”

Thune made it clear that either way,  he will  not be making his decision to run until sometime early next year, but he conceded that the possibility of a Palin run will be a major factor in that decision.  “I think that if she were to get into the race, it would clearly change the equation for a lot of people,” he said.

In the meantime though, Thune is certainly beginning to fulfill the prerequisites for a run.

While not focusing in on Iowa and New Hampshire, in his quest to help congressional candidates get elected this November, he has so far traveled to Ohio, California, Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas and in the closing weeks of the campaign cycle, will be visiting several more states.

Thune’s ability to busily campaign for others and step up his name ID outside of South Dakota, while he is up for reelection in South Dakota, is a but unusual but in his case, very understandable.

Due to his popularity back home, John Thune finds himself in the unique position of being only the third Republican to run unopposed for the body since the establishment of direct elections for Senators in 1913.  But the lack of any opposition has not prevented Thune from campaigning for himself in South Dakota, extensively and aggressively.

He has been making his rounds, speaking to voters and spreading his free market, limited government, fiscal responsibility and family values messages. And to help get his message out further, he has punctuated it by spending more than $4.4 million in his opponent less race.  And as of his last financial report, he still has more than $6.9 million in cash on hand to spend however he sees fit.

If Thune is truly considering a run in 2012, he will have to start making moves in that direction well before he announces his decision to do so. Among those moves will be the need to start looking and sounding more Presidential. That will require his getting in the forefront of some of the hot button issues of the day, like spending and the deficit. In August, Thune began to move in that direction when he publicized his own commonsense deficit reduction plan . (See the video below to hear that plan in Thune’s own words). But that will not be enough to make it in what will be a crowded early field of Republican contenders. To survive any early primaries and caucuses, the Senator must carve out his own unique theme and national message, one that presents fresh ideas to old problems and does so in a way that the electorate will see as more appealing than the solutions that frontrunners like Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour will be offering.

In some ways Thune could have a leg up on in the contest for the Republican nomination. His positions on issues like gay marriage and abortione have built him a solid base within the evangelical community, and he is appealing to TEA Party and Libertarians who appreciate his free market values, pro-gun rights, anti-tax message. Yet Thune hardly comes off as an extremist and with his friendly demeanor, small town-America, Mid-West charm and appeal, the right message could just make him a top tier candidate. But for that to be possible, John Thune will have to make the decision to run, sooner rather than later. He won’t have to make that decision public right away, but he has a lot of work to do in distinguishing himself and maneuvering for the race, long before he announces.

 

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Is John Thune Running for Reelection or the White House?

Official photograph of John Thune, U.S. Senator.

South Dakota Senator John Thune

Bookmark and Share  In 2004, John Thune ran for the United States Senate and defeated the U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Tom Daschle. It was his second run for the office. In 2002, he graciously conceded that election to incumbent Tim Johnson after Democrats involved themselves in a cash for votes scandal on South Dakota Indian reservations. Out of a total of 337,501 votes cast in that race, the illegally purchased votes helped to account for what was an ever so slight lead for Johnson of 524 votes or 0.15%. But two years later, Thune’s political campaigning turned those results around as he beat the powerful Senate Minority Leader. In that election, with 391,118 votes cast, 53,687 more votes than in 2002, Thune won a decisive plurality, besting Daschle by 4,508 votes or 51% of the vote.

Now, six years later, Thune is up for reelection and his opponent is no one.

After six years in the Senate and a conservative record that often receives a 100% ACU rating, Thune has become an impressive figure. And in a state where voters are far from trending Democrat during these Obama years, Democrats have failed to find anyone who is willing to oppose Thune andhave failed successfully  to urge anyone to even wage a token challenge to Thune,

That  lack of Democrat Party leadership and ideological strength has made it possible for Thune to be one of those rare candidates who can take time campaigning for others in not only his own state, but in other states as well. He most recently spent time in Arkansas campaigning and raising money in Arkansas for Republican senate candidate John Boozman who is running against politically wounded, incumbent Democrat, Blanche Lincoln.

But while John Thune’s own reelection remains uncontested, he is certainly not ignoring his place on the ballot this November. To date he has spent over $4.6 million in his opponentless race for reelection. Given the relatively small population of South Dakota and the fact that there is no real race, this is a pretty significant amount of money to spend, especially when you consider that there is still little more than 2 months to go till Election Day. So far, of the expected turnout, John Thune’s campaign expenditures it amounts to about $13.65 per voter.

Of course, this spending and out of state campaigning could be more for 2012 than 2010.

Thune could be actually trying to kill two birds with one stone as he uses his senate reeelction bid to  prepare for a run at the White House or for the number two spot on a Republican presidential ticket. The only hint that could contradict this conclusion is the level of activity in John Thune’s leadership PAC, the Heartland Values PAC. In this election cycle, the last reported total amount of contributions it has made to other candidates totals $185,500, a number which pales in comparison to other Republican presidential contenders like Palin, Romney and Pawlenty.

In general though, John Thune must be watched. Depending on who runs and the combination of those running in 2012, John Thune could be a very viable candidate for the Republican nomination and he is certainly playing his cards right. With relative youth providing some wind at his back, if he does not go for the nomination in 2012, his potential success at a run for the White House in in 2016 or 2020, could rely heavily on what he does in 2012 and how he handles the race.

 

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    “Fair” Game In Iowa

    Bookmark and Share    The Iowa State Fair is for presidential contenders, what Christmas is for children. Every politician who dreams of becoming President, quietly envisions, headlines that read “So-and-So Wins Iowa’s First in the Nation Caucus”. Their dream scenario is a smooth vault to the White House that starts with wins in both Iowa and in New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary contests. They all know that unless you get your foot in the door with wins in one or both of theses contests, the rest of the primaries and caucuses are going to provide for one long haul on the way to their Party’s nomination and then on to Pennsylvania Avenue.

    It is for that reason that with just one Iowa Sate Fair to go before the 2012 Iowa Caucus, attending this year’s fair is a must for those enthusiastic candidates who are just itching to announce their candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

    This year one candidate who is just dying to scream “I’m your man” couldn’t wait for the Iowa State Fair.

    Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was so anxious that he was standing outside of the fairgrounds waiting for the gates to open.

    On the first day of the fair, Pawlenty was there to flip pork chops and hamburgers, play a few games of ring toss, shake hands, and kiss babies. As well as delivering a speech at the boot h of the Iowa State Republican party, Pawlenty did a number of live radio and television interviews.

    The anxiousness of the Minnesota Governor’s desire to be at the Iowa State Fair on opening was not missed on his interviewers. One live interview produced the following exchange;

    Interviewer: “Let’s get to the politics thing, why do you want to be president ?”

    T-Paw: “Well, I didn’t say I did… “

    Interv iewer: “Yes ya did, you’re here in Iowa. You’re in Iowa, it’s the first day of the fair. (laughs)”

    T-Paw: “In all seriousness I’m going to decide that early next year.”

    Let’s put it this way, Palwenty’s running. Otherwise he would be back home governing Minnesota, not complimenting the corn bread being  baked by Iowa corn farmers who  hope to win a blue ribbonfor their recipes  in the corn bread bakeoff.

    But Pawlenty certainly is not is not alone.

    A recent trip by Newt Gingrich to Iowa’s State Fair makes that his sixth excuse for being in Iowa this year. And with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum buying his ticket to the fair, it is all but assumed that he is building an organization that he expects to propel him into the White House.

    So far, many more names aren’t at the fair than are there, but this week Haley Barbour is scheduled to be in Iowa for an event and chances are you can expect him to be stopping by the ol’ fairgrounds. Mitt Romney has yet to make an appearance and so does John Thune, Ron Paul and the 2008 winner of the Iowa Caucus, Mike Huckabee.

    People like Huckabee and Romney can forgo the fair this year. They have pretty significant organizations there from the last time around. But others have even more work to do than Romney and Huckabee .

    A Recent poll conducted by the Iowa State Republican Party places Huckabee and Romney, once again in first and second place with Huckabee at 22% and Romney at 18%. The surprise third place finisher is Newt Gingrich with 14% and Sarah Palin in a disappointing fourth place with 11%.  Heading up the back of the pack with a relatively substantial showing  is Ron Paul with 5%.

    Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum and a few others received tepid support but not enough to register in the poll. Barbour and Santorum on the other hand did not receive any support. But these results should no be discouraging to any of the contenders.

    In 2008, Mike Huckabee was a dark horse underdog and he took Iowa like a surprise thunderstorm. Additional encouragement can be found for those who did not make the top 5 in this early Iowa poll, is the fact that more people are undecided than anything else. In fact undecided actually wins this poll with 23%. So the truth is, Iowa is providing all the candidates with a “fair” chance in 2012 but it all starts with a trip to the Iowa State Fair.

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