Grover Norquist, president of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Relief, said recently that if Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) wants to be considered a serious presidential candidate in 2012, he will first have to publicly denounce his 2008 vote in favor of creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bailout initiative that is decried by many conservatives as among the most profligate examples of big-government spending.
"Get up and say: 'That is never happening again. Boy, did we get sold a bill of goods, and here is my rule of thumb as to why you know that I know that won't happen again,'" Norquist advised in an interview with the Argus Leader. "You can change your mind on one thing in one direction credibly if you explain it."
As GOP 12 points out, Thune seems to be well aware that some key conservatives will take issue with his TARP vote. He's taken some steps to address the matter before, though a lot of his energy has been spent on efforts to rebrand himself as an opponent of the program.
John Thune, however, is likely taking some comfort in the fact that he is not the only potential 2012 GOP candidate with baggage.
Every contender appears to have chinks in their armor, which are only likely to become more pronounced as they approach what is likely to be a bruising primary campaign. Republican strategist Karl Rove recently jabbed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his work on a state health-care system that pushed an individual health-insurance mandate similar to that of President Barack Obama's signature 2010 law.