Will Thune be on McCainâ�?�?s ticket? Senator downplays V.P. talk By Randy Dockendorf
Yankton Press & Dakotan John Thune for Vice President? The name of South Dakotaâ�?�?s junior senator has been floating around as the possible running mate of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Thune told the Press & Dakotan in a May 29 interview that he isnâ�?�?t pressing the issue. At this time, he doesnâ�?�?t know if he has been included on the short list of finalists. â�?�?There has been a lot of speculation,â�? Thune said. â�?�?People have thrown out names, and my name has been included. But I am not out campaigning for it.â�? So, would Thune accept the No. 2 spot on the ticket if it was offered to him? Again, he downplayed the speculation and said the process needs to play itself out. In the meantime, he has chosen to remain focused on his Senate duties. Thune said he has no inside information on McCainâ�?�?s possible running mate. Anything is possible in politics, he added. While Thune said he isnâ�?�?t pushing the idea, his possible VP selection gained additional traction May 29. This time, the idea was raised among an audience most of whom arenâ�?�?t old enough to vote. Thune opened up the floor for questions and answers during his appearance among high school juniors at South Dakota Girls State on The University of South Dakota campus. A Girls Stater noted McCain has scheduled an appearance at this yearâ�?�?s Sturgis bike rally in August. She acknowledged Thuneâ�?�?s name among possible choices for the GOP ticket, then asked the timetable for McCain to make a selection. â�?�?When will he make a decision?â�? the Girls Stater asked. Thune said the candidates work on their own timetables. Given the intense nature of this yearâ�?�?s presidential race, the choice of a vice president has become increasingly crucial, he said. McCain turns 72 in August, leading many political observers to speculate he would likely be a one-term president. That would open the door for his running mate to carry the GOP banner in the 2012 presidential race. Both McCain and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL.), who appears to have the lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in the current Democratic primary race, are â�?�?under a lot of pressureâ�? in making their selection, Thune said. â�?�?Both nominees listen to a lot of consultants,â�? he added. The Republican and Democratic nominees may decide to name their running mates this summer, Thune said. â�?�?Over time, the vice president has been selected before the convention. Thatâ�?�?s usually in August or September,â�? he said. â�?�?It could happen any time (during the 2008 race), but I think it will be in July or August.â�? In separate comments for the Press & Dakotan, Thune said he doesnâ�?�?t have strong opinions about former press secretary Scott McClellanâ�?�?s book criticizing President Bush and his administration. â�?�?That type of book usually comes out at the end of administrations,â�? he said. â�?�?You need to take all of these things with a grain of salt.â�? Thune doesnâ�?�?t think McClellanâ�?�?s book will affect the general election outcome. â�?�?This usually has staying power for a few days,â�? he said. â�?�?For both McCain and Obama, this is a distraction. Itâ�?�?s not helpful in the long run.â�? Thune also doesnâ�?�?t think dramatic changes will come from the bookâ�?�?s criticism of Bushâ�?�?s handling of the Iraq war. â�?�?There is a lot of second-guessing in terms of the war,â�? Thune said. Regardless of how the current presidential race ends, the national attention South Dakota received leading up to Tuesdayâ�?�?s presidential primary has been good, Thune said. â�?�?Thatâ�?�?s an indication of the competition in the campaign,â�? he said. â�?�?There is a lot at stake for both the Republicans and Democrats.â�? The candidates and their campaigns injected a welcome shot of spending as they traveled the state, Thune noted. â�?�?Itâ�?�?s great that they are contributing to the South Dakota economy,â�? he said, flashing a grin.