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Political Experts Discuss Thune Decision

February 22, 2011, 4:55 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Political Experts Discuss Thune Decision
Word of Senator John Thune's decision not to run for the Oval Office spread fast. Coming from a small state like South Dakota, experts say Thune had an uphill battle to win the Republican nomination, and another major challenge to defeat incumbent Barack Obama.

But even with Tuesday's announcement, political experts say you shouldn't rule him out for a future Presidential campaign.

Thune's announcement made national headlines, but local experts aren't surprised.

"In my mind, he could have gone either way, but I'm not overly surprised by his decision not to seek the Republican nomination in 2012," Bob Burns said.

Retired political science professor Bob Burns says the race for the White House would have consumed Thune's time and could have distracted him from his duties working for South Dakota.

"To seek the nomination would have diverted him from that major responsibility he has as a Republican leader in the Senate," Burns said.

"Nothing can come close to what it's going to do to you, what it's going to do to your family, how it's going to effect your future. There's no sense at the beginning whether you're going to be successful or not," Steve Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand was one of eight original advisors for Barack Obama as he weighed his Presidential aspirations. Hildebrand also worked with former Senator Tom Daschle as he considered running. Hildebrand says he can't blame Thune for his decision, because nothing compares to the stress, pressure and scrutiny of a Presidential campaign.

"Once you make that decision to run, its all hands on deck. If you have any second thoughts that this might not be right for you, you shouldn't do it. I think that's why Tom Daschle backed out and I think it's why Barack Obama decided to do it," Hildebrand said.

But, today's decision doesn't rule Thune out as a possible candidate in 2016, or as a running mate in 2012.

"In a way, South Dakotans should be thankful for that. But at the same time, many of his supporters here in South Dakota were hoping that he would decide to seek the nomination for the office of President," Burns said.

Burns also notes that just because South Dakota is a small state, it doesn't mean we're not making a splash in the political pool.

Senator Tim Johnson was recently named Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. And, Congresswoman Kristi Noem is a freshman Republican liaison in the U.S. House.

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