Decision Day Draws Closer for Sen. John Thune
by Jenna Mann
February 21, 2011 6:05 PM
This Presidents Day marks a week until Sen. John Thune's self-imposed deadline on whether or not to run for the highest office in the land. Even as the day draws nearer, Thune isn't dropping many hints about his intentions.
Will he or won't he? It's the question everyone's been asking for months, to no avail.
On Fox News on Feb. 9: "So, it's not out of the question to think of a senator, let's say, from a state like South Dakota running for president, right?"
Thune: "I think states like South Dakota and people who come from South Dakota have reputations of living within their means, have reputations for common sense, and for making the right kind of judgments on issues like this, Neil."
But, for Thune (R-South Dakota), what is the right judgment?
"There is this element of him, I'm sure, that he's thinking he's serving the state best by being in the Senate, but at the same time, there's a temptation to think, is there an opportunity at this time or in 2016 to run for president?" said Brent Lerseth, a political science professor at Augustana College.
Lerseth says if Thune does enter the race, his biggest challenge will be getting his name out there on a national scale. Making the decision sooner, rather than later, could help remedy that.
"It's going to be very important that if he does run, that over the next six months that he does a great deal of groundwork in getting prepared for the primaries that follow next year," said Lerseth.
"I suspect there will be a half dozen Republican candidates seeking the nomination, and under those circumstances, Sen. Thune may have as good a chance as any of them," said McGovern.
Former Sen. George McGovern (D-South Dakota), who won the Democratic nomination for president in 1972, says he supports Thune either way and offers advice to the man making the same decision he did almost four decades ago.
"Beware of fatigue and watch out for any phoniness," said McGovern.
The countdown to decision day continues while the country waits for an answer only Thune can make.
Thune has said he'll share his plans by the end of February. Other potential candidates include former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin.