BREAKING: Thune Won't Run for President in 2012

Posted: Feb 22, 2011 12:08 PM
The decision:

For months now, my wife Kimberley and I have received encouragement from family, friends, colleagues, and supporters from across South Dakota and the country to run for the presidency of the United States. We have appreciated hearing their concerns about where the country is headed and their hopes for a new direction.

During this time, Kimberley and I and our two daughters have given a great deal of thought to how we might best serve South Dakota and our nation. That process has involved lots of prayer.

Along the way, we have been reminded of the importance of being in the arena, of being in the fight. And make no mistake that during this period of fiscal crisis and economic uncertainty there is a fight for the future direction of America. There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now. So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate.

I want to thank those who have encouraged us and prayed for us during the past several months. We are forever grateful for all the support.

John and Kimberley

Who benefits most from this news?

(1) Tim Pawlenty is likely breathing a sigh of relief today.  I've spoken to a number of seasoned political observers who believed Thune and Pawlenty would siphon votes from eachother in Iowa, which would be a crucial state for both campaigns.  Thune's departure from (or, rather, demurral to enter) this race makes Pawlenty's task in the Hawkeye State a bit easier.

(2) Mitt Romney has now cleared the crucial "looks like a president" field.  Thune was his stiffest competition.

UPDATE: Philip Klein reacts to Thune's announcement with a "meh:"

I think this is a wise decision by Thune. If the reaction to his rather pedestrian speech at CPAC earlier this month was any indication, there simply wasn't much enthusiasm for a run by this South Dakota Senator, and really the only reason he was discussed at all was because of the weakness of the rest of the field.

Others are already starting to speculate as to how this will affect the rest of the race -- who it will help, who it will hurt. But honestly, his absence is unlikely to have much of an impact, because his candidacy wasn't going anywhere in the first place, which is probably why he decided not to run.

I respectfully disagree with Klein on the point that Thune's departure will have negligible impact on other potential campaigns.  As I stated above, a strong showing in Iowa is absolutely critical for Tim Pawlenty's viability as a candidate.  It's tough to imagine how Thune being out of the mix doesn't help TPaw get over the hump in his own backyard.