(CNN) – He's kept a low profile relative to other Republicans thought to be eyeing a 2012 White House bid, but South Dakota Sen. John Thune says he is taking a "full look" at launching a bid for president.
"I'm getting a very full look at it. I suppose you try to think what it would look like," Thune told the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes in an article published online Monday.
"One, is it something you want to do. Two, do you think there's a pathway to get there. And that's obviously a thought process that involves a lot of other people - your family and whatnot."
With a solid conservative voting record, compelling life story, and telegenic good looks, Thune has long been considered a likely presidential candidate straight out of central casting. But the South Dakota Republican has been considerably less visible this year compared to other likely 2012 aspirants - including Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Newt Gingrich.
Still, Thune hasn't been all together absent from the campaign trail, headlining a reception for the Republican Party of Virginia last July and addressing a Maryland gathering of Republican National Committee officials in May. That same month, he also traveled to North Carolina to address the National Rifle Association's annual meeting.
The presidential buzz first percolated last year thanks to a visit to Iowa, a new position in the Senate GOP leadership and a growing 2010 campaign war chest despite the lack of a serious Democratic challenger. It also may help that Thune's home state touches part of western Iowa – that state's stronghold of conservative voters.
And the South Dakota Republican isn't pulling punches when it comes to President Obama:
"A lot of Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical about his leadership and his overall philosophy of what America could and should be in the next decade and this century," he told the Weekly Standard.
Still, Thune's got some hands to shake in Iowa if he wants to be taken seriously. A recent poll from that key presidential state had him at 1 percent - below a string of candidates with better name ID and long lists of visits to the state.