Donald Trump Attacks GOP South Dakota Senator in One of His First Tweets of 2021

President Donald Trump's first tweet of 2021 came Friday morning in the form of a a simple "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" A few hours later, however, he attacked fellow Republican John Thune, the senior U.S. senator from South Dakota.

Along with calling Thune a RINO (a derogatory used by some on the right for "Republicans In Name Only") in his Twitter message, he also expressed his desire for the state's GOP governor, Kristi Noem, to run for Thune's senate seat in 2022.

His tweet from Friday afternoon read: "I hope to see the great Governor of South Dakota@KristiNoem, run against RINO@SenJohnThune, in the upcoming 2022 Primary. She would do a fantastic job in the U.S. Senate, but if not Kristi, others are already lining up. South Dakota wants strong leadership, NOW!"

I hope to see the great Governor of South Dakota @KristiNoem, run against RINO @SenJohnThune, in the upcoming 2022 Primary. She would do a fantastic job in the U.S. Senate, but if not Kristi, others are already lining up. South Dakota wants strong leadership, NOW!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2021

Trump's motivation for criticizing Senate Republican Whip Thune on Friday was unclear, but this isn't the first time the president has voiced his displeasure about him on Twitter. On December 22, the president tweeted: "Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, 'Mitch's boy', should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn't like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!"

Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, "Mitch's boy", should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn't like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020

That message appeared to come in response to Thune recently acknowledging President-elect Joe Biden's victory. On December 21, Thune, while speaking with reporters, remarked that he did not know of any senators who would join House Republicans in challenging Biden's victory when Congress convenes on January 6 to count certificates of electoral vote.

"The thing they've got to remember is, it's just not going anywhere. I mean, in the Senate it would go down like a shot dog," he said.

Nearly a week before those comments from Thune, Senator Mitch McConnell recognized Biden's victory and congratulated President-elect Biden on the Senate floor.

Meanwhile, while South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been one of Trump's most ardent supporters, she responded to Trump's December 22 tweet by declaring her friendship for Thune. In her own tweet, she also said she would focus on running for reelection of the governorship in 2022.

.@johnthune is a friend of mine, and I will not be challenging him. I'm honored to be Governor of South Dakota and will ask the people to give me an opportunity to continue serving them as Governor in 2022.

— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) December 23, 2020

Thune joins other prominent Republicans the president has publicly lashed out against following the election. After Ohio Governor Mike DeWine referred to Biden as the president-elect, Trump tweeted: "Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!" He has also encouraged Congressman Doug Collins to run against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp after the latter certified Biden's win in his state.

Newsweek contacted Thune and the White House for comment about the president's tweet, but didn't hear back at the time of publication.

Thune and Trump
Senator John Thune (R-SD) seated next to President Donald Trump during a meeting on trade with governors and members of Congress at the White House on April 12, 2018. Getty