South Dakota Senator John Thune helped pass the farm bill on Thursday, but he might be plowing new political ground soon. Thune is on a short list of names being mentioned as a possible running mate for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
In only his second term as U.S. Senator, Thune has quickly climbed the ranks in the Republican party and is now poised to possibly become Romney's running mate this fall. Thune tells KELOLAND News he hasn't had any discussions with Romney on the topic, but isn't closing the door on the idea.
"I've said this before and I mean this sincerely, that if you want to make a difference in public life, you don't close doors. You want to keep your options open," Thune said.
Thune was one of the first to endorse Romney for president when he helped him campaign in Iowa. Romney is holding an exclusive summer retreat this weekend that will include appearances by those most frequently mentioned as potential vice presidential choices, but Thune says don't read too much into that.
"It's with a lot of his close supporters and people who donated to his campaign and a chance to meet and thank those folks. It's an opportunity to strategize for the fall campaign. But beyond talking about a certain topic, I don't view it as my kind of an audition, but simply to get together to talk about campaigning this fall," Thune said.
Some political experts say Romney wants to pick someone who's low-key, respected, has Washington experience and comes from the Midwest.
"Most of the names that have been mentioned I have high regards for; I think they're all people who could do the job well. My expectation is that I am going to be working in the United States Senate, hopefully with a President Romney to try and fix problems," Thune said.
Others considered to be on Romney's short list: Sens. Marco Rubio, Florida, and Rob Portman, Ohio; Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie.