The presidential prospects of Senator Thune

Stephen F. Hayes’ (Weekly Standard)  profile of South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) created a lot of buzz about the prospects of Mr. Thune running for president earlier this week.

In a follow-up to the article, Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza called John Thune “the Republican Obama”, while Slate’s Dave Weigel responded with a short post titled No, no, no. John Thune is not the Republican Obama.

I’ve extracted some pro’s and con’s for a Thune for President campaign from Hayes’ profile:


  • “exceptionally skilled retail politician who can communicate a kind of midwestern, common sense conservatism that is ascendant in reaction to liberal profligacy”
  • “he’s cultivated the nationwide donor base that gave him $14.5 million to defeat Tom Daschle in 2004.”
  • “South Dakota borders Iowa.”
  • “he’s good on television.”
  • “Last year, National Journal ranked him as the 6th most conservative member of the Senate.”
  • “He is better than most at articulating the case for a return to limited government. And Thune makes that case in a common-sense way that draws people in rather than sending them running.”


  • “he’s a devout Christian who can quote Scripture without seeming to proselytize.“

“Thune attended Biola University, a small Baptist College [correction: a private Christian University] in Los Angeles, following his older siblings. In a testimonial on the school’s website, Thune says: “I valued the biblical foundation I got at Biola. I was able to take classes that strengthened my faith and helped me to better understand what I believe and how to, in a practical way, apply my faith in real-world situations. I think God is looking for people who can apply their faith in a very relevant way to their profession. My faith is integral to the decisions I make and the way I conduct myself in public life.” 


  • “He has virtually no national profile.”
  • “He worked briefly as a lobbyist.”
  • “He voted for TARP.”
  • “He is a defender of earmarks.”
  • “He would be running against Washington from Washington.”

With that said, what did Chris Cillizza take away from the profile? He focused on the following quote:

“In an age in which presidential campaigns are driven by image, Thune’s looks are highly relevant. He does look like a president.”

Thune, according to Cillizza, mirrors “Obama’s skill set: charismatic and handsome but with a fundamentally different approach to government’s role in peoples’ lives.”

Who knew Obama’s charisma and looks were such important parts of his “skill set”?

Thune, like Romney, is “stylistically similar to Obama” according to Cillizza. “Someone with the bearing and look (don’t underestimate how important it is to look “presidential”) to credibly stand with Obama on a debate stage. The alternative, of course, is to nominate the anti-Obama — someone who in resume, approach and look draws a purposeful contrast with the President. Leading that group would be the likes of Govs. Mitch Daniels (Ind.) and Haley Barbour (Miss.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also probably would be included in that group. (Daniels is also short and balding — providing a visual contrast with Obama.)”

Dave Weigel’s reaction:

“Is it important to ‘look presidential’? …  It is far, far, far more important to be able to prove to the base that you were on their side on the issue they care about most.”

Hayes’ profile of  Thune is an interesting read, while Cillizza’s comment is a superficial and unconvincing piece (as Weigel pointed out).

It’ll be interesting to follow Thune in the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections.

Tags: , , , , ,

4 Responses to “The presidential prospects of Senator Thune”

  1. Thomas Graham Says:

    BIOLA is not a Baptist College. It is an independent Christian University. The name derives from its founding as Bible Institute of Los Angeles.

  2. Are Tågvold Flaten Says:

    My bad, and thank you for pointing it out for me. I relied on Mr. Hayes’ reporting, and I have corrected it now.

  3. Are Tågvold Flaten Says:

    Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) finessing his position on TARP:

    “Pronouncements were made [by the Bush administration] about how it was going to be used. It wasn’t used that way. The Obama administration expanded it and turned it into more of what I would characterize as a political slush fund in terms of the many uses of it.” […]

    “It was wrong philosophically,” Thune said. “How it was used and, in my view, misused is what I take issue with. ”

  4. David Macadam Says:

    Actually what really goes against him is that he is a Senator. Senators dont normally win Presidencies. There were only two in the twentieth century and neither look good as examples. Harding was weak and insipid and Truman was foisted on the President as a VP and only got the big job when FDR died. Obama did win but he was slightly different he was a Senator for such a short time before election no one really knew him. So I dont think Thune will get past being nominated. I wrote further here:-

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: