Spokane, Washington (CNN) – A handful of key words stand out when chatting with Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, about the presidential bid he is considering: "commonsense conservative," "heartland values" and, of course, "Iowa."
Thune's home state shares a border with the Hawkeye State, the traditional kickoff to the presidential nominating process, and he clearly views his Midwestern roots as a serious asset if he decides to enter the race sometime next year.
"I am in the West and I like the West obviously," Thune told CNN while in eastern Washington campaigning with GOP Senate hopeful Dino Rossi. "It's a part of the country I am very comfortable in and states like mine and Iowa, which is next door, the constituency there is very much like mine, and they are people I am very comfortable having a conversation with."
Ever since his potential candidacy was first seriously floated in a September profile in The Weekly Standard titled "Dakota Dreaming," Thune has been far more candid than his potential rivals in discussing the likely shape of the Republican nominating contest.
Thune predicted "a very wide open" race on the GOP side and said he doesn't feel "any particular rush" to join the 2012 fray. His focus, he emphasized, is electing Republicans to the Senate in 2010.
Whether he takes the plunge early or waits to see how the rest of field shapes up, the handsome, 6-foot-5-inch native of Murdo, South Dakota - who also happens to be an evangelical Christian - seems to envision himself as a candidate who can appeal to primary voters of all stripes.
"I think what's going to be important is somebody who's going to deliver a message to people in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and other states around the country about what they would do to reign in out of control government spending, to try and create jobs in the economy, and put people back to work," Thune said, when asked what sort of space he fills in the 2012 field.
"I think those are going to be the issues continue to be the issues that people will care about, and they are very much heartland issues," he added.
Thune, who voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 but has since called himself one of the bill's "fiercest critics," chided President Obama for moving "aggressively to expand government in a way that we haven't seen since the 1960s."
He said he would offer a clear alternative.
"I think that we need a commonsense conservative who will I think lead this country in a direction that actually restores more freedom to the American people and gets away from this trend right now of expanded government," he said.
And Peter Hamby's love fest of all things Republican continues.
"Heartland Values" = no gays, no immigrants, no atheists, no abortion, no birth control, no stem cell research, no universal healthcare, no evolution, and guns for everybody!
just like the compassionate conservative we had for 8 years...........thune out guy, go home and stay there...you are toast, nother hypocrite and cnn,pleasedo not call him a rising stars, all of thos republiCONServatives are more like a falling boulder.
What exactly are the Republican Heartland Values? Do they also include lying in order to commit mass murder? Wave your car dealership flag, Thune.
South Dakota is in the West? SD hardly reflects a broad cross-section of American values. Voted for TARP – do what I say , not as I do GOP hypocrisy at its finest. Just wet your finger and see which way the wind is blowing already John.
Cool. Another GOPer ready to insult the half of Americans not considered living in *Heartland* territory. You know who were are, don't you Thune? We are those living in the blue states, yep, those blue states that fund the federal dollars being sent to the Red States you so cater to. You know the dollars. The ones the GOPers keep accepting all the while voting against us, calling us Socialist, Communist, Marxist and every other ist known to mankind.
Please vote Republican, so I can keep your job.
"Heartland values"? Translation: racism, homophobia, pro-fetus/anti-child, military with endless budget, anti-Social Security, anti- health care for all, pro-outsourcing, and corporate greed!