Sen. Thune likely headed to N.H. early next year

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told a New Hampshire radio station Thursday he's taking a "hard look" at a run for president in 2012 and that there's "a very good possibility" he'll head to the Granite State early next year. 

"We're taking a hard look at it," Thune said of a potential 2012 bid. "It's obviously a very big undertaking but, as you know, the Granite State figures prominently into anybody who wants to succeed at that task." 

In an interview with a Concord radio station Thursday morning, Thune gave the proper deference to New Hampshire's status as the sight of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. He said while he currently has no trips scheduled to either New Hampshire or Iowa, that will likely change over the next few weeks. 

"We don't have visits on the schedule right now, but we're still putting together next year's schedule, and that's a very good possibility," Thune said. "Obviously, the early states and New Hampshire's critically important role in the primary process is something we fully recognize. ... If we decide to move forward, you can expect to see us up there." 

Thune again defended the tax cut compromise reached by President Obama and Senate Republicans, calling it "the best possible agreement that we could get." 

Thune's criticism earlier in the week of those who have come out against the compromise was widely seen as a shot at other potential 2012 hopefuls, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has come out against the deal, along with Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.  

But Thune said he wasn't "singling anyone out" with his comments, noting he was just making the point that it's always easier to criticize from the outside looking in. 

"A lot of the tax relief that's in this bill are things that Republicans and conservatives have fought for for a long time," said Thune, who noted that there are "a lot of, sort of, purists out there who have made the argument" that the compromise should be rejected.  

"But at the end of the day, you need to govern and you have to get the best possible deal that you can," he said. "And without this, taxes are going up on Jan. 1. That's a reality."