No. 2 Senate Republican sees the writing on the wall, backs Trump

Former President Donald Trump scored a major endorsement on Sunday in his bid to recapture the White House.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s second in command, says the choice in November is “crystal clear.”

“The primary results in South Carolina make clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in this year’s pivotal presidential election,” Thune told Fox News Digital. “The choice before the American people is crystal clear: It’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden.”

“I support former President Trump’s campaign to win the presidency, and I intend to do everything I can to see that he has a Republican majority in the Senate working with him to restore American strength at home and abroad,” he said.

“Together we must put an end to the disastrous Biden-Schumer agenda,” Thune urged voters. “Our country cannot endure another four years of Bidenomics, continued lawlessness at our southern border, and American weakness on the global stage.”

After Trump soared to victory in Nikki Haley’s state of South Carolina, the minority whip and the former president spoke Saturday night on the phone, sources familiar with the call told Fox News Digital. Prior to that, it was unclear if Thune would publicly back either of the GOP candidates for the crucial 2024 Republican nomination.

“Like McConnell, he suggested he would support whoever Republican voters chose as their presidential nominee, but Thune has for the most part avoided mentioning the former president,” Fox reports. “He previously endorsed South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign and was present at Scott’s launch event. Scott dropped out in November and endorsed Trump last month.”

The announcement is receiving mixed reactions on X.

According to conservative talk radio host Leo Terrell, Thune “is a RINO” and should be met with skepticism.

“I welcome his support, HOWEVER, Thune is a RINO and Trump’s Hater,” Terrell wrote. “He had no choice but to endorse.”

“I am speaking the truth,” he added. “I do not want Trump burned by Trump’s Haters!”

In a second post, Terrell stated flatly, “I do not trust John Thune!”

Others agreed.

“RINO’s gonna protect themselves above all,” noted one user.

“We’ve never trusted Thune,” said another.

“He is a Rino loser,” declared a third. “Waited until Trump was a lock then he backs him so Trump leaves him alone after he is 47. Don’t be fooled.”

With Thune’s endorsement, McConnell is facing increased pressure to pick a side, despite the bad blood shared between the minority leader and the MAGA King.

“McConnell said at a press conference this month when asked about the race, ‘I’ve stayed essentially out of it, and when I change my mind about that, I’ll let you know,'” according to Fox News Digital.

Some on X hope Thune’s stand marks a shift in the minority whip’s loyalty.

“Finally,” wrote one optimistic user, “he might start to distance himself from McConnell.”

Melissa Fine

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