The third-ranking Senate Republican, who stirred anxiety in the Democratic National Committee with fears that he would run in 2012, hasn’t ruled out a run for the White House in 2016.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), 53, has been in the upper chamber since his high-profile oust of Majority Leader Tom Daschle in the 2004 election. He is currently chairman of the Republican Conference.
Thune told The Hill that the 2016 option isn’t on or off the table.
“The things I need to be doing right now I’m not doing and a lot of other people are,” he said. “But you never close the door on anything, you never know what’s going to happen. But as of right now, no.”
Thune, who is up for Senate re-election in 2016, is expected to take the chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee in the new GOP-majority 114th Congress.
“I am not actively pursuing [the presidency] at the moment; I’ve got my work cut out for me in the Senate,” he said. “I think being in the majority, and if all things work out here, the committee chairmanship, is going to keep me extremely busy.”
In July 2010, DNC Executive Director Jennifer O’Malley Dillon told the Huffington Post that there was just one prospective Republican candidate who scared her, and he was never a Pennsylvania senator.
“This is personal but John Thune is somebody that I have nightmares about,” she said. “I’ve worked for Tim Johnson and Tom Daschle and he is just a guy you can’t ever count out. He has his head down and is doing some policy stuff. [You] just got to start looking at him.”