The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious names that Mitt Romney may consider for Vice President. Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one of the many Republicans which we believe that will at least be considered for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
In addition to biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.
Today, in it’s final installation of the series, White House 2012 offers a look at Senator John Thune of South Dakota.
South Dakota Senator John Thune
Born: January 7,1961(age 49), Murdo, South Dakota
Spouse(s): Kimberly Thune
Children : Brittany and Larissa
Residence : Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Alma mater: Biola University
Religion: Evangelical Christian
` Political Career :
- Served as a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Abdnor.
- Was an appointee of President Ronald Reagan to the Small Business Administration.
- Was appointed Railroad Director of South Dakota by Governor George S. Mickelson and served from 1991 to 1993.
- From 1993 and 1996, he worked as a member of the South Dakota Municipal League.
- In 1996, Thune was elected to South Dakota’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He won reelection in 1998 and in 2000 was reelected with over 70% of the vote. Thune supported term limits and promised to serve no more than three terms in the House.
- Keeping his pledge, Thune instead ran for the United States Senate, challenging Senator Tim Johnson in 2002. Democrat ran scandal which saw Party officials pay for on Indian reservations placed the results of the election in doubt. But Thune decided not to mount a legal challenge by filing any objections and accepting a questionable and close loss by 524 votes (0.15%).
- Between 2002 and 2004 Thune worked as a lobbyist for the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad.
- In 2004, he again ran for the Senate, this time challenging incumbent Tom Daschle, at the time the United States Senate Minority Leader and leader of the Senate Democrats. It is rare for for the Party’s legislative leaders to lose an election but after overcoming Daschle’s early 7 point lead, Thune defeated Daschle by 4,508 votes.
John Thune sits on the following committees:
- Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
- Member, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
- Member, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine
- Member, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance
- Member, Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion
- Senate Committee on Finance
- Senate Committee on the Budget
Thune is an attractive, young, conservative with heartland values that would be a big help to a candidate like Mitt Romney. Yes, I know we have had seemingly similar people who fit that same description, but John Thune is no Dan Quayle. The only drawback in picking Thune is the fact that South Dakota is going to go Republican in the presidential election no matter what and even if the G.O.P. did not have a lock on South Dakota, the benefit that comes with the advantage of Thune being that state’s favorite son is a miniscule 3 electoral votes.
But if the basis for chosing a vice presidential running mate is that of someone who he is capable of being President at a moment’s notice, than there is no reason for a Republican not pick Thune. He is a solid conservative, not perfect, but solid, and he is well spoken, levelheaded, quite friendly, knowledgable on the issues and his legislative record is one which is rich in common sense solutions that most conservatives and common sense Americans would find quite appealing. Add to that the regional appeal that Thune has and what you have is someone who is an almost perfect vice presidential nominee.
Part of the importance of Thune’s Midwest appeal is the neighboring swing state of Iowa, a state President Obama won in 2008.
In 2012, John Thune is much more popular among Iowa voters than is the President. It is a fact that the Romney campaign used quite well after Thune became an early supporter of Mitt Romney and began campaigning with Romney in Iowa during the state’s presidential caucus. Thune’s regional appeal could help make two typically solid blue states, Minnesota and even Wisconsin, far more competitive than they might be without Thune on the ticket.
Aside from the possible effects that John Thune could have on the electoral college, the two term conservative Senator meets all the basic criteria that Mitt Romney seeks. Most important is Romney’s level of comfort in his running mate. Like Romney, John Thune is firm, methodical, deliberative, not abbrassaive, and non-controversial. This makes Thune a a safe choice for Romney among the conservative base that still doubts the depth of Romney’s committment to the conservative ideology. Yet at the same time, John Thune lacks the ire of the left that would make him the type of lightning rod for their hatred that others such as Chris Christie or Michelle Bachmann would be. That lack of hatred which is often exhibited fby the left means that the addition of Thune to the G.O.P. ticket will not provide the left with the degree of motivation that would be required to use Thune as a distraction from the issues.
Thune is a productive legislative leader, and a bright youthful, inoffensive, consistently conservative consideration for Vice President and is certainly on Romney’s shortlistt. In recent days, Senator Thune has admitted that he has met with Beth Meyers, the woman heading up Romney’s search for a running mate, but he has not confirmed whether or not the Romney campaign is still vetting him.
However; I maintain that because of Thune’s overall record, his personal attributes, the unlikely acceptance of other individuals who may be up for the job, and the circumstances confronting Romney in the existing political environment, I believe John Thune is probably the person most likely to be picked by Romney. While he may not excite the ticket with a sense of history and diversity because of his color, gender or lack of a Hispanic background, all o which would help bolster the G.O.P.’s much needed support from various blocs of voting groups, he is a competent and reliable selection who can offer a degree of balance that Romney needs in order to keep together his conservative base, motivate fiscal conservatives, and still be able to compete for the pivotal independent votes that will be needed to win the presidency.
Thune was considered a possible presidential candidate and even gave the idea of running for president some serious thought of his own until he decided against it in late spring of 2011. But running for Vice President is a different story, and if asked to run, I really don’t see Senator Thune refusing the nomination. Being Romney’s running mate will be a no risk proposition for Thune that will produce high yields for his political future. Having been reelected to the Senate in 2010, Thune will not have to give up his senate to run for Vice President and if a Romney-Thune ticket did happen to lose in 2012, Thune will continue to serve in the Senate and he will do so as a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. That scenario dovetails quite well with Thune’s support for term limits.
When he served in the House of Representatives, Thune limited himself to three two year terms. Now as a Senator, it is safe to say that he will limit himself to two six year terms. As such, a run for President would be the perfect next step. So for Thune, there is no reason to say “no” if asked to be Mitt Romney’s running mate
Thune is a productive legislative leader, who is youthful, bright, inoffensive, consistently conservative, and a good man in his own right. Thune is certainly on Romney’s shortlist and if the nomination of the Vice President becomes contentious, John Thune would be the perfect compromise candidate. And for all the right reasons.
- Thune is positioned well to attract independent voters
- Can appeal to younger voters
- Helps Romney in the Midwest, specifically Iowa, Minnesota, and possibly even Wisconsin
- Thune has the capacity to be the articulate and credible attack dog that the G.O.P. will need on the ticket
- Thune was a strong opponent of certain economic recovery and stimulus spending bills in 2008 and early 2009 and subsequently voted against many of those measures
- Thune has played a leading role in formulating energy policy and was instrumental in passing a comprehensive energy bills in 2005 and 2007
- Although Thune now states he is disappointed in the way the money from the first Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 was spent, Thune did vote for it
- Thune may be vulnerable to attacks based upon distortions of his work as a lobbyist for for the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad
- Thune does not help to guarantee Republicans that they will any of the electoral rich states like Ohio or Florida that may be pivotal in the Electoral College.
- Thune’s support for earmarks that went to South Dakota will be exploited by the left
Thune is one of the more relatively exciting safe choices that Romney can make. He is a relatively young, fresh political face, with a fairly solid conservative record and he can help Romney appeal to independent voters and voters in several upper Midwest state that Romney could use help in. Since 2011, I have felt that John Thune is Mitt Romney’s most likely choice for Vice President. Thune is a perfect fit for Romney in the sense that Thune is a comfortable match for Romney. With names like Rubio and Daniels supposedly out of the running because of their claims to not want the job, unless Romney is prepared to make a bold choice and pick a running mate that could be viewed as a game changer, I believe that Thune is more likely to picked by Romney than other so-called safe choices such as Ohio’s Rob Portman or Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty.
While Pawlenty is a solid and safe choice, he has never been very popular and if his own campaign for the Republican presidential nomination proved anything, it is that voters couldn’t care less about him. As for Rob Portman, his addition to the ticket does not necessarily guarantee that he will deliver Ohio to the the Republican ticket but it does help tie Romney to the Obama Administration because of Portman’s past position as the Director of the Office of management and Budget under Bush. That combined with the longer history of accomplishment that Thune has over Portman in the Senate makes John Thune a vice presidential pick for Romney that has more potential and less baggage than Portman will.
Will Romney pick Thune? I have no idea if that can be answered in the affirmative or the negative but I have a personal sense of things that tells me Romney is leaning towards making John Thune his running mate.
Bill Sponsorship & Co-Sponsorship
Some of Thune’s most recently sponsored bills include…
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Recent Key Votes
Thune On The Issues