Presidential races

Sen. Thune: Not closing door on 2016 run

Greg Nash

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Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) isn’t ruling out a 2016 bid for the White House.

{mosads}Republicans have an enormous field of potential candidates who are already making moves ahead of 2016. But Thune told The Hill he hasn’t been focused on building the kind of national infrastructure that other candidates are busy putting together.

He also declined to take the option off the table.

“The things I need to be doing right now I’m not doing and a lot of other people are,” he said. “But you never close the door on anything, you never know what’s going to happen. But as of right now, no.”

Thune, 53, strongly considered running in 2012, when some in the party — and Democrats — believed he would have posed a serious challenge to President Obama.

He took himself out of the running early, citing doubts about his fundraising abilities. However, he has amassed an impressive amount in his Senate account: nearly $9.5 million.

Thune said his focus now is on helping Republicans make the most of their new majority.

“I am not actively pursuing [the presidency] at the moment; I’ve got my work cut out for me in the Senate,” he said. “I think being in the majority, and if all things work out here, the committee chairmanship, is going to keep me extremely busy.”

Thune, the No. 3-ranked Senate Republican, is expected to chair the Senate Commerce Committee when Republicans take control of the Senate next month.

He is up for reelection in 2016, and South Dakota law prevents him from running for the Senate and the White House.

The South Dakota Republican has been a fast riser in the party since he knocked off then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) in 2004. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney summoned him to Boston in 2012 during his search for a vice presidential candidate, before tapping Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

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