ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune announced on Tuesday that he is staying out of the 2012 presidential race, saying that he wanted remain in the “trenches” of the U.S. Senate.
Thune had been contemplating a bid for the GOP presidential nomination and said he had “received encouragement from family, friends, colleagues, and supporters from across South Dakota” to jump into the race.
“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,” Thune said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
In January Thune told ABC News he did not have a specific timeline in mind for making a presidential decision, but said it would be sooner than later.
“We realize that if you’re going to do this, you have to get moving, the clock is ticking, obviously,” he said in an interview.
Thune is the second major Republican to say he is staying out of the Republican nominating contest. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, a favorite of conservative leaders, ruled out a presidential bid in late January.
In the ABC News interview, Thune said that while “there are a lot of good candidates out there,” 2012 represented ”a big opportunity on the national field.”
Unlike many of the other potential presidential contenders, had Thune decided to get into the race his biggest challenge would likley have been running as Washington lawmaker. It clearly would have been tough spot, especially since the emerging field looks like it will be filled mostly with current and former governors.
So far, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. and are the only sitting members of Congress reportedly considering a run. Sen. Jim DeMint has said he won’t, but his name is still in the mix.
Thune, the current chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, entered the Senate in 2004, defeating Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.
Here is the full statement from Thune and his wife, Kimberley:
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