Just as unconfirmed reports claim that South Dakota Senator John Thuneis taking his own poll in the important early primary state of South Carolina,Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today revealed that he has urged South Dakota Senator John Thune to run for President. McConnell revealed his support inthe debut of Politico’s new “Playbook Breakfast” forum,an ongoingseries of eventstaking a look at the strategies our elected leaders are taking to move their legislative agenda forward.
During the interview, host Mike Allen asked the Minority Leader, who he saw as a rising star within the GOP. Without hesitation, McConnell answered “John Thune” Allen suggested that as a senator, Thune’sstar has already risen, but McConnell responded by saying that Senator Thune is “new to the American people”.
The Minority Leader called himself a big Thunefan and in addition to describing Thuneas a sharp, capable leader, he also spoke of just how formidable a candidate those who know him, know he can be. McConnell pointed to the fact that in the past election cycle, no one even dared to challenge Thune in his reelection bid for a second term to the Senate.
Thune first came to the Senate by defeating Tom Daschle, who at the time, was the senate’s Democrat Minority Leader.
McConnell’s remarks about Thuneare significant. Duringthe interview, helargelyavoided talk about 2012 and instead played up his desire to focus on getting things done during the course of the two years leading up to the presidential election. For this reason, McConnell dodged more than a few questions asked of him during the Playbook Breakfast interview. But when the opportunity to praise Thunepresented itself, McConnell jumped at the chance and volunteered his support for a Thune candidacy.
Making this even more notable is the fact that during the 2010 midterm elections, McConnell stated that his top priority is making sure that President Obama is not elected to a second term. Since then he has been tryingtosound less partisanand to put the focus on the issues more than the President, butlike a jury being warned by the judge to ignore the remark they just heard, we all know what he said and thatdefeating the President in 2012 is still a priority of the Minority Leader. So for McConnell to place a certain degree of faith in Thune’s ability to be the person who can defeat the President, is a pretty big deal.
McConnell’s remarks help fuel increasing speculation about Thune’spotential candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Thune has himself recently stated that he knows he must make a decision soon and helping to confirm that he is seriously considering it, Race42012reports that Thunehas been polling South Carolina voters with questions that include if they would vote for Thuneagainst President Obama, if the approve repealing Obamacare and if they are supporters of the Tea Party.
Meanwhile, oneof Senator Thune’s top fundraisers, Gregory Slayton,has been making calls of a different type in to New Hampshire on behalf of the Senator.
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