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Salem students spotlight national politics during Thune visit

An interest in politics was on display Friday at the McCook Central School. Once Thune's short speech to the students came to a close, he opened the floor for questions. The first question for Thune touched on the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. Whil...

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Sen. John Thune speaks to the student body at McCook Central School during a visit to the school Friday morning in Salem. (Matt Gade/Republic)
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An interest in politics was on display Friday at the McCook Central School.

Once Thune’s short speech to the students came to a close, he opened the floor for questions.

The first question for Thune touched on the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. While Thune maintained his stance that the next president should determine the proper candidate to fill the void left by the recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, he said the question highlights the interest young people like the McCook students have in current events.

“It really shows that people are tuned into what’s happening in the world, and I think that’s a good thing,” Thune said.

Thune also wasn’t able to escape the open forum without hearing the name Donald Trump.

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When asked for his thoughts on Trump’s candidacy for president, Thune said he will support the Republican nominee, but he indicated he has no favorite in the race.

Thune did rule out one candidate at what could be an open convention.

“Am I going to be president some day? Not likely,” Thune said.

Despite a potential open convention where Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich and others could duke it out for the Republican nomination, Thune doesn’t expect the July convention’s result to split the party. Although he did said a slight splintering of the Republican Party base due to the results of the Cleveland convention is a possibility.

“There’s always that potential, and undoubtedly there are going to be hurt feelings,” Thune said. “And coming out of a convention, you’re going to need time to heal.”

While Thune said the convention could hurt some feelings, he said the early convention could benefit the party. Unlike the 2012 convention, which was held in late August, this year’s convention to announce the Republican nominee begins July 18.

With the early convention, Thune expects the party to unify around its nominee.

“The ability to unify the party will be made easier just because if there are two words that unify Republicans, it’s Hillary Clinton,” Thune said.

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