Senator John Thune Tops “The Herd” of White House 2012’s Potential Vice Presidential Picks for Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share  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:

Photobucket

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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

Assessment:

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.

Photobucket

Bill Sponsorship & Co-Sponsorship

Some of Thune’s most recently sponsored bills include…

View All » (including bills from previous years)

Photobucket

Recent Key Votes

More Key Votes

Photobucket

Thune On The Issues

Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Civil Rights
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Health Care Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Technology Corporations Welfare & Poverty
Energy & Oil Environment Jobs Principles & Values

Photobucket

Click here for John Thune’s Facebook Page

Bookmark and Share

Is Romney’s Campaign Panicking? Frontrunner Enters Dangerous Territory With Negative Attack Ad and Tactics

Bookmark and Share  Wednesday evening saw Mitt Romney appearing before the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce in South Dakota.  During his approximately 20 minute speech to the group at their annual banquet, the former Massachusetts governor told the 2,000 business leaders in attendance that “The great challenges we have we will overcome, if we have leaders that will tell the truth, and live with integrity, and who, by virtue of their life experience, know how to lead.”

In what seems to be turning into a theme for his campaign, Romney added that our nation’s ability to get beyond our economic problems was with a leader who “knows how to lead.”  Soon after that, Romney’s campaign posted a web ad on their Youtube page that proceeded to mock Rick Perry.  The ad was inititally announced on Romney’s Facebook page and where followers were asked “Do you think Governor Perry would be able to challenge President Obama in a debate?”  

The spot was an attack on Perry that spliced together the many moments of stammering and long pauses which Perry displayed during his poor debate performance.  Combined with some dopey looking Rick Perry facial expressions from the same debate that required precision angling and timing to capture, the ad made Perry look unprepared and too incompetent to lead.

But not long after the ad the appeared on both his Youtube and Facebook pages, it disappeared, leaving the following image in its place.

 The pulling of this ad could have been for any number of reasons, including the use of images contained that may be copyrighted and were quite innocently used but nevertheless created to questionable infringement issues.  Or it could be because it was decided that the ad went too far in trying to make Rick Perry look stupid.

Either way, there is something brewing here.  I expect that by mid or late Thursday morning, there will be some reason given by the Romney campaign for the pulling of the ad.  Whether the reason they give is true or not will be another question.   I believe that someone in the Romney campaign may have felt that the ad went too far, which is something that I am beginning to fear that the entire Romney campaign may unfortunately be doing.

On Tuesday, the Romney Campaign launched an anti-Perry website called  Rick Perry: Career Politician at www.careerpolitician.com.

When you arrive at it, it has several different flash displays that alternate between screens that feature headlines reading things such as “Perry and Obama: Immigration Imitation”, or  “26 Years in Politics and Counting”.  By clicking on the various available links, you will find Romney produced, anti-Perry ads, and articles written by the “Romney Communications Shop” and contain such headlines as “Don’t Forget – Perry Praised Hillarycare as “Commendable” , No Texas Jobs Miracle, Rick Perry has a Problem with the Truth, and more.

You will also find a petition page where you are asked to ad your name to the following statement;

“America is facing a jobs crisis. We need a leader who understands how the economy works. If you agree career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out, sign the petition.”

On its own, careerpolitician.com wouldn’t be so bad.  As it is, Mitt Romney has been operating ObamaIsntWorking.com for weeks now and no one has suggested that went too far or is inappropriate.  In truth, it is very creative and from a Republican standpoint, all quite true.  But when you combine the recently pulled web ad that was designed to make Perry look like a moron, along with the Rick Perry: CareerPolitican website, and what you have is the chance to plausible argue that Mitt is crossing a line of negative politics that he should not be rewarded for.

Don’t get me wrong.  No matter how much people say they hate the use of negative ads and the running of negative campaigns, such tactics work.  At least if they are done right and are easily believable.  However, after seeing the ad that the Romney camp now pulled, I believe Romney’s campaign was beginning to enter a danger zone and setting themselves up for a big backlash from voters who would have seen him as going way too negative, way too early.

No matter what though, as I stated in a separate White House 2012 post on Wednesday, it is interesting that Romney still obviously sees Rick Perry as the biggest obstacle between him and the nomination.  While Perry has raised good money in a short period of time, he has also lost favor among Republicans at a rate that is much faster than the pace of Perry’s fundraising.  Meanwhile, Herman Cain is the man which polls indicate is a much bigger threat to Romney than Perry is at the moment.  Perhaps the announcement that Perry will be the bold move of proposing a flat tax has caused some in the Romney camp to panic and cause them to pull the trigger on the negative stuff.  Whatever the reason is, Romney needs to take a step back and carefully assess where things are going.  And instead of going so negative, so quickly, and realize that maybe he should have upstaged both Perry and Cain by being the first one to propose a rational, and simple flat tax, a one  rate tax code for one nation.

I have argued that one of the things Romney needed to do most was demonstrate some ability to think out of the box and break the establishment mold he has been painted in to.  I further argued that he could have done that by  proposing a flat tax rather than throwing out a well planned but seemingly bureacratic 59 point economic plan.   Instead, it is now Rick Perry who will have the chance to do that.  Not Romney.

Meanwhile, the Romney camp, or at least someone in the Romney camp is beginning to worry.  So much so that they are jumping the gun and beginning to make some of the campaign’s first strategic errors.   We’ll know for sure once someone in the Romney explains why they pulled the Perry attack ad so quickly.

Bookmark and Share

South Dakota Senator John Thune Declines a Run for President in 2012

Bookmark and Share The evolving Republican presidential field today takes another turn which takes one contender out of the running but leaves the door wider open for others to enter through.

Statement posted on Friends of John Thune Website

Today in a statement released by John Thune, the second term senator from South Dakota ruled out a run for President in 2012. According to the senator;

“At this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate,” he said in a statement released by his senate campaign organization.

“For months now, my wife Kimberley and I have received encouragement from family, friends, colleagues, and supporters from across South Dakota and the country to run for the presidency of the United States. We have appreciated hearing their concerns about where the country is headed and their hopes for a new direction,” he said.

According to Thune his decision making process

“involved lots of prayer,” and throughout it he and his family were “reminded of the importance of being in the arena, of being in the fight.”

The Senator explained why he chose to focus on his senate responsibilities rather than take on new ones by stating;

“There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now,” he said, explaining why he was choosing to focus on his current job, rather than seeking a new one.

Within the last month, John Thune has become the second major possible contender for President to decide against challenging President Obama in next years election. Just a few weeks ago, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence was the first recent top tier name to decline a run for the Republican presidential nomination. Pence is said to have decided to run for Governor of Indiana instead. Incumbent Governor Mitch Daniels is termed limited and at the moment he has said he will make his own decision about a potential run for President in April, when his states legislative session is over.

Thune’s decision not to run for the Republican presidential nomination, continues to leave lots of room for a favorite of social conservatives to occupy in the still developing field. Pence was seen a favorite among the socially conservative G.O.P. base and Thune was viewed as a possible acceptable alternative. Thune’s absence from the race leaves hope for others like Michele Bachmann and boosts the fortunes of people like Herman Cain, Mike Huckabee and even Sarah Palin, if they were to run.

Bookmark and Share

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.

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.

 

Bookmark and Share

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.

 

Related Articles

  • McConnell likes Thune as ‘someone out of the blue’ in 2012 (thehill.com)
  • Thune: No timetable for 2012 decision (thehill.com)
  • Thune a Top Tier 2012 Presidential Candidate (politics.usnews.com)
  • Senator Thune Pondering 2012? (dakotavoice.com)
  • 4 reviews of John Thune (rateitall.com)
  • Thune: No decisions yet about 2012 run for president (thehill.com)
  • John Thune’s Deficit Proposal Could Launch a 2012 Presidential Bid (politics.usnews.com)
  • John Thune Scares DNC Executive The Most Among 2012 Prospects (huffingtonpost.com)
  • Bookmark and Share
    %d bloggers like this: