(WASHINGTON) -- Senator John Thune, R-S.D., wants to move up a notch in the Republican leadership. When Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday that he will leave his job as Senate Republican Conference Chairman, Thune immediately announced plans to seek the No. 3 GOP Senate post. "Lamar will be a tough act to follow,” Thune said on ABC’s Top Line Wednesday, especially in an election year. “It’s also really important for us as Republicans here in Congress to get the things that we’re doing -- our agenda -- across with the American people, and that’s really what the job entails.”
Despite Alexander being a tough act to follow, Thune said there is room for improvement should he win the leadership race. "If successful, I only have one direction to help take us: up,” he said.
Which is also the direction most lawmakers want the economy and jobs numbers to go, too. Thune said most Republicans disagree with President Obama’s jobs plan, which is slated for a vote in the Senate sometime next month.
“I hope that we can find some agreement on some issues,” said Thune. The GOP, he continued, will want to deal with regulations, taxes, moving trade bills and getting government spending under control.
Thune said he could support spending on infrastructure. The payroll tax cut may also get some Republican support, though Thune himself is not a big fan. The tax cut, like the rest of the president’s jobs plan, he said, is too short-sighted.
“It may help a little bit in terms of GDP next year, but it’s not going to get us back on track to really get the economy humming again.”
Thune also wants to hear Obama lay out a plan to fix Social Security, a hot-button topic for 2012.
“I think most people acknowledge that Social Security, you know...they would tell you it’s not viable for future generations,” said Thune. People want to know how it will be fixed, and whether it will protect benefits for people who are retired today, Thune continued.
Back to Senate leadership, the Senate Minority Whip position will also be up for grabs in 2012, when Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., retires. Thune would not commit to throwing his hat in the ring for that race.
“I don’t think you rule anything out, you just never know what’s going to happen around here,” said Thune. “I think you have to be, you know, keep your options open and think about where you can serve your conference and your country the best.”
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