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GOP watch: Thune tests the waters

"Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Thursday that he will likely decide whether to run for president 'early next year,'" The Hill writes, adding more from Thune: "'It's probably an advantage not to launch too early' because 'these campaigns get very long" and "people get very weary of them… I think there will be a lot of -- there will be a huge vacuum after the midterms and people will be rushing to fill it and you'll have a lot of candidates. And there could be a very big field. Like I said, I have not made any decisions about this. But my guess is that there will be a lot of folks who will be snapping up personnel in Iowa and New Hampshire and other places like that and taking very assertive steps in that direction. But I think that sometime next year is plenty early."

The elephant in the room, he said, is Sarah Palin: "I think that if she were to get into the race, it would clearly change the equation for a lot of people… I think that she is someone who has a tremendous following out there, particularly in some of the early states. This is not a campaign where you start out and you run nationally right away. It's all sequence, and you have to get through certain states. She has a big following." He added, "I were to decide to do it, I would go all out."

"Senate GOP candidates backed by the Tea Party movement have received much less financial support than more established candidates from their party's leading contenders for the White House," The Hill reports. "The GOP figures jockeying for a 2012 bid have largely avoided contributing from their political action committees (PACs) to Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Joe Miller in Alaska, Mike Lee in Utah, Ken Buck in Colorado and Sharron Angle in Nevada."

After News Corp., the parent company of FOX News, donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, Politico reports on a second $1 million contribution by the company -- to the GOP-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The New York Times: "News Corporation has a political action committee that has donated to both parties this year, as have those of Comcast (which is in the process of acquiring a 51 percent stake in the company that holds NBC News and MSNBC). Time Warner (whose holdings include CNN and Time magazine). and CBS Corp (parent of CBS News). But nothing on record is on the order of the $2 million the News Corporation is now known to have given to the Republican Governor's Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."