Sen. John Thune, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, is endorsing the presidential campaign of Sen. Tim Scott, according to a person familiar with his plans.
The South Dakota senator will appear at Scott’s presidential launch on Monday in South Carolina, the person said. Scott will announce his presidential run on Monday in North Charleston and has already launched an ad blitz.
In backing Scott, the Senate minority whip becomes the highest-ranking congressional Republican to back the South Carolina senator. And he joins his South Dakota colleague Sen. Mike Rounds in backing Scott, who is popular among Senate Republicans. Some members of House leadership have already indicated they support former President Donald Trump’s campaign.
But Thune is making good on his hopes of turning the GOP away from Trump and presenting a more forward-looking vision for the party. Thune recoiled from Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, famously declaring that his election challenge would go down on the Senate floor like a “shot dog.” That drew a political threat from Trump, but Thune easily won reelection last year.
Since then, Thune made clear he did not think Trump’s style was suitable for the party, and said in November that “it’s clear that running on relitigating the 2020 election is not a winning strategy.” He has also praised Scott’s strengths as a candidate, concluding last year that Scott has “obviously helped a lot of people around the country in the last year, raised a lot of money and built a lot of relationships that can be very useful if he does” run.
Scott could pick up more Senate endorsements in the coming days because of his throwback style of conservatism and optimistic rhetoric, particularly for Republicans looking for a non-Trump candidate to get behind.