Red State’s Erick Erickson pronounced Sen. John Thune’s (R-S.D.) potential 2012 presidential bid dead today when sources informed him that Thune was opposing Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) proposal for an earmark moratorium among GOP senators. Erickson wrote:
Thune is whipping votes for Mitch McConnell in order to defeat the Coburn-DeMint earmarks moratorium. There is no way Thune would so blatantly defy the grassroots of the GOP, the tea party movement, and virtually every major conservative group in Washington if he had any interest in being President in 2012.
But in an email to TWI sister site The American Independent, Thune’s spokesman Kyle Downey refuted the Red State piece. “Senator Thune is not and has not been whipping against Senator DeMint’s earmark ban. Senator Thune has supported earmark moratoriums in the past and he continues to support an earmark moratorium,” Downey wrote.
Though Thune may avoid the ire of the Republican base in this instance, it does highlight a unique position for the senator from South Dakota that his potential primary opponents will be able to sidestep. Many of names bandied about as possible GOP nominees are figures such as Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who have retired from their official political perches. Others, such as Tim Pawlenty, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels, are governors. Both groups can avoid taking part in the politically messy and widely unpopular process of legislating in the U.S. Congress.
Aside from idle speculation of a DeMint campaign, Thune is the only Republican senator whose name is mentioned as a possible 2012 opponent for Barack Obama. Even on the House side, the only real possibilities are a repeat longshot bid from Ron Paul (Texas) and a run by Mike Pence (Ind.), who appears more likely to run for governor.
Patrick Caldwell is a reporter for The American Independent.