The Argus Leader reports:
WASHINGTON – One of Sen. John Thune’s top fundraisers quietly has been making calls in New Hampshire on Thune’s behalf, a further sign that the South Dakota Republican is nearing a decision on whether to run for president.
Gregory Slayton, the former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, runs a private investment firm and is a professor of business administration at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College. Slayton was Thune’s Northern California finance director when Thune ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2002 and when Thune defeated former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle two years later.
New Hampshire will hold the first presidential primary, probably in February 2012, days after Iowa’s caucuses are expected to launch the campaign season. Those two states and South Carolina have culled the GOP field in presidential primaries since the 1980s.
In separate interviews Thursday, Thune and Slayton acknowledged that they had discussions about Thune’s possible candidacy, and each hinted that a decision might come soon.
“Greg’s a friend from way back, and he’s been involved in some of my Senate campaigns, and we’ve had a number of discussions,” Thune said. “But I think we’ve made it clear that we haven’t made any final decisions. … He’s on the ground there, and he’s got a good feel for it, and he’s very connected, politically, to what’s happening in the state.”