John Thune Chance of Upgrading in 2012 As Seen Via the WaPo

The Washington Post is ruminating on John Thune’s probability of trying for the top slot in 2012:

Today’s candidate filing deadline in South Dakota marks the start of serious talk about Sen. John Thune‘s potential presidential campaign in 2012.

John ThuneThe Thune forces have been loathe to discuss his potential 2012 candidacy while there was still a possibility — albeit it a VERY slim one — that he could draw a serious Democratic challenge for his re-election race this fall.

But, privately, those close to Thune acknowledge that he has been receiving considerable encouragement to run and is likely to take a hard look at a national bid. Those same sources caution, however, that he remains entirely undecided and his decision will be heavily shaped by what he hears and sees in the coming months. (They also note that Thune will keep an eye closely on South Dakota to ensure he doesn’t repeat the mistakes of then Sen. George Allen in 2006.)

Thune will likely focus on building out an issue portfolio via his chairmanship of the Republican Policy Committee — the  committee released a report on Iran this morning — with a specific focus on spending and debt issues. (Thune has been an outspoken opponent of the Troubled Asset Relief Program almost since its inception — although he did vote for the bill.)

He will also likely begin to do more for candidates running for office in 2010 via his Heartland Values PAC — a process that will allow him to visit key early primary and caucus states to gauge support.

The rest of the article looks at his strengths and weaknesses as a possible candidate. Go read it (and get up to date on what the inside-the-beltway folks think of Thune).