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John Thune
John Thune outside his office at the Capitol, on May 3, 2023. J. Scott Applewhite / AP file

Eyes on 2024: Thune backs Scott’s nascent presidential bid

The South Dakota senator is the highest-ranking Republican senator to weigh into the presidential race and the first to not back Trump. 

By and

As Tim Scott announces his presidential bid Monday morning, he’s doing so with the backing of not one, but two GOP senators — the only two senators so far to back a candidate who isn’t former President Trump. 

Scott already won the backing of South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds. And on Sunday, NBC News’ Julie Tsirkin and Ali Vitali reported that Senate Republican Whip John Thune, who also represents South Dakota, is endorsing Scott and will attend the senator’s announcement. 

Thune is the highest-ranking Republican senator to weigh into the presidential race and the first to not back Trump. 

The former president is backed by 10 Republican senators, including National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines, R-Mont.

But more senators could be waiting on Scott to officially announce a run. Rounds recently told NBC News that other senators were “holding back” on endorsing in the primary until Scott decided to jump in. 

“Once he’s made his decision at that point, then a lot of us would really like to see him succeed,” Rounds said.

In other campaign news…

The latest in DeSantisland: NBC News’ Julia Jester and Vaughn Hillyard report that Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis, Fla., and Chris Sununu, N.H., met Friday afternoon as the two weigh presidential bids. The New York Times reports on how the private flights that DeSantis has taken around the country as he readies his presidential bid have largely escaped public scrutiny.

And the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning that “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.” 

Get by with a little help from his friends: The Associated Press looks at how the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC is trying to build out an organizing apparatus for a campaign that currently has no candidate and with which it can’t officially coordinate. 

Not everyone’s enjoying the party: The New York Times reports on Democratic apprehensions over the possibility of No Labels running a third-party candidate for president, with Democrats in Congress worrying it would help re-elect Trump.  

Summer judging: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to release her charging decisions in her investigation into Trump and his allies’ interference in the 2020 election in early August. 

Return of the pickup truck?: Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., is hosting GOP presidential contenders in New Hampshire, and Brown tells Fox News he would consider another run for Senate in the Granite State in 2026.

Manchin breaks with Biden: As he weighs running for re-election, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., once again broke with Biden, opposing the president’s nominee for labor secretary and looking for a list of alternatives, NBC News’ Liz Brown-Kaiser, Julie Tsirkin and Mike Memoli report.

Carper watch: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., is holding a press conference at 11 a.m. to announce whether or not he is running for re-election, according to a press release.

Tester’s test: The Washington Post delves into the Montana Senate race, which will test Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s “authenticity and connection with his home state’s voters can override most Montanans’ inclination to vote Republican.”

Downballot downers: Some Republicans considering running further down the ballot have been “spooked” by Trump’s early strength in the presidential primary, and they’re concerned about Trump’s impact on their own potential races, Politico reports. 

Walker’s running: Former GOP Rep. Mark Walker announced over the weekend that he is running for governor in North Carolina, pitting him against two other statewide Republicans who have launched runs so far: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and state Treasurer Dale Folwell.

Beshear on the air: Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is up with the first TV ad of his re-election, per AdImpact. In the 60-second spot, Beshear says, “We’ve been through a lot these past four years and some days have been tougher than others, but I will always show up to help the people of Kentucky working to make sure our kids and grandkids have a bright future here.”

PAC play: A group of Democratic strategists is re-launching Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison’s PAC, which will have access to Harrison’s Senate fundraising list that helped him break records in 2020.