ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., a potential 2012 presidential candidate ever-so-gently tweaked Sarah Palin, a possible rival for the GOP nomination in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
“The closest I’ve come to being on a reality TV show is C-SPAN’s live coverage of the Senate floor,” Thune told the crowd at CPAC in Washington. “It’s not the most exciting television, but it did have a good ending last year because a number of my liberal colleagues got voted off.”
Palin, of course, starred in her own reality television series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which aired on TLC.
Thune, who has kept his presidential intentions close to the vest, did not offer many clues about thinking in his remarks on Friday. He did, however, acknowledge what many political observers have said could be a main weakness if he decides to enter the race.
“It’s fair to say that I don’t have the same national name recognition as some of my more famous Republican colleagues have,” he said. “I’ve never had a book signing. I’ve been to Iowa plenty of times, but it’s usually on my way to South Dakota."
The South Dakota Republican’s speech was thick with criticism of the Obama administration. He said that based on the policies the president outlined in his recent State of the Union address, the country was in for “more of the same" in 2011.
“President Obama likes to talk about winning the future,” Thune said. “But someone needs to tell him: You can’t win the prosperity of tomorrow if you’re mortgaging it to pay for the big government programs of today.”
Thune took aim at what he said was President Obama’s “weak response” on foreign policy issues like the danger posed by Islamic extremism and the economic threat from China.
On the domestic front, he called for passing a balanced budget amendment and reforming big government programs like Social Security and Medicaid.
“If we’re going to solve our entitlement problem,” Thune warned, “we’re going to need to solve our White House problem by electing a conservative president in 2012."