Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., is expected to endorse Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., during his 2024 presidential campaign announcement Monday, a Scott official confirmed to Fox News.
Thune will deliver remarks at Scott’s presidential announcement event on Monday in North Charleston, according to the official. Scott filed the paperwork to run for president last week and has already started releasing campaign ads.
Thune is the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate behind Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He will be the highest-ranking Republican on Capitol Hill to back the South Carolina senator.
Fellow GOP South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds will also be endorsing Scott’s presidential run.
Scott’s entry into the race further crowds a Republican primary field that currently includes former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, businessman Perry Johnson, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former radio host Larry Elder and businessman Ryan Binkley.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his candidacy this week while former Vice President Mike Pence is considering a run for the White House.
Thune’s support for Scott solidifies his efforts to move the party away from Trump, who holds a significant lead over his Republican competitors in recent polling. The South Dakota senator distanced himself from Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, stating at the time that attempts to challenge the election results would ‘go down like a shot dog’ on the Senate floor.
As was the case with several other Republicans who refused to back Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election, Thune drew the ire of the former president, who then threatened that the senator’s political career would be over.
However, Thune easily won reelection last year.
After outlasting Trump’s failed attempt to oust him from Congress, Thune has said it is time for the GOP to move beyond the former president’s obsession with the 2020 election. Thune declared in November that ‘it’s clear that running on relitigating the 2020 election is not a winning strategy.’
In December, Thune expressed approval of a potential Scott presidential run.
‘He’s 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],’ Thune told POLITICO at the time.
Scott, who is prolific at raising funds, has said he hopes to be a unifier in the Republican Party and to avoid the polarizing approach of other presidential candidates.