Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) plans to put his full endorsement behind Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill.
In a show of trying to move the party away from former President Trump, Thune will attend the South Carolina senator’s formal campaign launch on Monday. As the No. 2 Senate Republican lawmaker, Thune is set to become the highest ranking congressional GOP leader to back Scott.
Thune’s endorsement was first reported by Politico.
Scott officially declared his candidacy on Friday, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. Thune has been known to be a backer of Scott’s presidential aspirations, encouraging Scott to jump into the 2024 race earlier this year.
“I think he’d be a great candidate. I’m excited about it. I’ve been encouraging him,” Thune told The Hill back in April. “I think he’s getting a lot of encouragement from his colleagues. He’s really well thought of and respected and I think he’d be a really interesting candidate for president.”
“[I] told him to let me know when he wants to come to Northwest Iowa. It’s right next to South Dakota and I tell him I’ll come out for him or against him — whichever helps him the most,” he added.
Fellow South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds (R) said on Wednesday that he would back Scott’s bid for president, becoming the first Republican senator to endorse a candidate other than former President Trump.
Scott is facing an already crowded field for the Republican nomination, including Trump, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been the only potential candidate so far to make headway on Trump in the polls, is also expected to announce his bid next week.
Scott is so far the only senator vying for a bid for the White House in 2024.