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Posted at 2:28 PM ET, 02/11/2011

Thune joins Obama critics at CPAC

By Amy Gardner

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) added his voice to the drumbeat of criticism against President Obama in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday afternoon.

Thune hit many of the same themes already heard at this year's CPAC gathering of more than 11,000 conservative activists. He accused Obama of expanding the size of government at the expense of personal freedoms and doing too little to turn around the nation's unemployment rate. He criticized Obama's national security approach. He tipped his hat to Ronald Reagan and to American exceptionalism.

"President Reagan showed us that there can be great hope in the midst of great despair," Thune said. "There can be great joy in great sacrifice, that if we stick to our convictions, good things can come from hard times. What a contrast to our current president."

Thune is the latest on-the-fence presidential contender to pay a visit to the conservative movement's biggest gathering of the year. He is popular among conservatives for unseating then-Senate majority leader Tom Daschle in 2004.

Before Thune began speaking, a few eager supporters jumped to their feet to chant, "Run John, Run! Run John, Run!" Thune has said he will decide this month on whether to join the 2012 presidential race.

By Amy Gardner  | February 11, 2011; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  PAC Watch, Republican Party  
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