One-on-one with Senator Thune


KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen is in Washington D.C. this week, talking with South Dakota’s delegation.

Wednesday, Don had an interview with Senator Thune in his WHIP office at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Don Jorgensen: Talk a little bit about your responsibilities as the WHIP.

Thune: Well the goal for the WHIP is to try and help your team succeed and that means winning the vote, so that means to try to ensure that on any given day, whatever the bill is that’s on the floor that you have enough votes to get it passed. And so that ultimately is the objective of the WHIP. With that comes a lot of other responsibilities, but it’s working with the leadership team and basically to try and help your team succeed.”

Don Jorgensen: And it’s trying to get the Republican message across to all the Senators.

Thune: Yeah, and then to try to help each individual senator understand and get them information. What the leadership’s position is and hopefully, eventually try to persuade them on any given day, on any particular vote that we need them. Some days that’s easier than others, some votes are easier than others and sometimes it can be a very heavy lift. We have to have all hands on the deck to try to get the job done.

Don Jorgensen: Have you had to break any arms? Twist a few?

Thune: Well we haven’t broken any arms and I try and tactfully do this. But you know, at some point we have a process and we sorta work through it and in the end it generally falls back to me and to Senator McConnell, the leader, to try and make sure we’ve got the votes to try and get stuff across the floor.

Don Jorgensen: Talk about this WHIP office. It’s got a lot of history behind it.

Thune: It does. I mean this office has been here in operation I think going back to before the Civil War. And interesting occupants through the years. This has been the WHIP office for the past 20 years or so. If you look at that, you know, John F. Kennedy had this office back in 1961. LBJ occupied these offices in his time as the leadership here in the Senate. And so, it’s got a lot of interesting features about it. Oddly enough, yeah.

Don Jorgensen: This right here.

John Thune: So this is um… I always ask people what they think it is and I get a lot of interesting answers, but the real answer is, it’s a bathroom of all places installed in what looks like a closet right here in the WHIP office. We don’t know exactly who put it in, but it’s here.”

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