Republicans today elected Sen. John Thune to the leadership post vacated by Sen. John Ensign, who stepped down after admitting last week to an extramarital affair with a campaign aide. Thune will lead the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the No. 4 position in the leadership, and play a role in shaping the Republican message and agenda on health care, climate change, and spending.
"We're in a bit of a hole but we're going to dig our way out of it," said Thune, who had served as vice chairman of the conference, the No. 5 leadership job. Republicans elected Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski to that post. Thune captured attention in 2004 when he defeated then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.