Saturday, April 20, 2013

Parsing Thune's Comments About Rounds And Noem

David Montgomery reports that John Thune praised both former Governor Mike Rounds and Representative Kristi Noem:
“I’ve known Mike and worked with Mike for over 20 years. He would be a great addition to the United States Senate,” Thune said, before praising Noem in the next breath as a “strong voice” who “votes the right way, and you don’t have to worry about what she’s going to do.”
If Montgomery is quoting Thune accurately, and one has no reason to believe he is not, Thune's phrasing prompts a few questions. Some might wonder if "votes the right way" is polite code for for "does whatever John Boehner tells her to." (That might be a question only cynical bloggers ask.) The bigger question is whether Thune was subtly endorsing Rounds and sending Noem a coded message to resist the urge to mount a primary challenge.

Thune uses the Republican Lincoln Day Dinner to say Rounds "would be a great addition to the United States Senate." If Thune considers Rounds "a great addition," he's saying Republicans should support Rounds in his quest. It would seem odd for a Republican to run against someone who would be a "great" addition to the Senate. Had Thune damned with faint praise, using words like "welcome" or "helpful," the challenge might be necessary. Thune, however, asserts Rounds would be "great."

Thune also tells the assembled Republicans they "don't have to worry about what [Noem's] going to do." Some are wondering if she's going to challenge Rounds. That challenge, if it happens, will cost both candidates time, effort, and money. It may distract Republicans from their goal of winning every seat subject to a statewide election. In fact, the primary campaign may be the only event that will prevent a "great addition to the United States Senate" from being elected.

If Republicans "don't have to worry about what [Noem's] going to do" and if Rounds is a "great addition," Thune seems to be telling Representative Noem that they don't want "worry about what she's going to do," This implication seems clear: Noem can stop Republicans from worrying  if she runs for re-election to the United States House of Representatives and does not challenge Rounds.

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