It may seem early to announce a run for president, but the first primaries are less than a year away. And, even though no other Republican has made an official announcement, Thune is prepared to announce his presidential aspirations within weeks.
"It's such a big decision unlike anything we've ever contemplated before," Thune said.
Thune and his wife Kimberley have been talking about a run for president for the past several months, and the Senator says he's close to an announcement.
"If I were serious about doing this you've got to get out at the starting gate because most of the other candidates are starting to make moves, and so sometime before the end of the month we'll probably let folks know what my intentions are," Thune said.
Thune says several fellow senators and South Dakotans have encouraged him to make a run at the White House, but he says it's now up to him, and his family, to make the final decision.
"At some point it just becomes a gut-level decision that you and your family make, and that's what we're coming up on," Thune said.
Thune says the decision won't be about power but it will be about serving the citizens of South Dakota and the United States.
"You have to ask the question, the fundamental question, do I have something to contribute? And, is there leadership I can provide for the nation? And, then you have to come back and say is it something I have a passion to do?" Thune said.
It not only takes passion but money to run for president. Thune has $7 million in campaign cash on hand since no one challenged his re-election this fall. But, Thune says it will take far more than that to run for the Republican nomination.
• Elected to U.S. House in 1996
• Served three terms
• Lost to Sen. Tim Johnson in 2002
• Won U.S. Senate seat in 2004, defeating
Sen. Tom Daschle
• Serves on the:
- Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
- Budget Committee
- Commerce, Science & Transportation
- Finance Committee
• Chairman of the Senate Republican
Policy Committee since 2009