By Dana Bash, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent
Washington (CNN) - He walks through Washington's Reagan National Airport, arriving as he does nearly every Monday from a weekend home in South Dakota. He makes his way unnoticed.
But John Thune's anonymity may not last forever.
He is a Republican on the rise: a freshman senator who is already a member of the GOP leadership.
As head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, Thune runs the weekly strategy session where all Senate Republicans try to find consensus on the best way to challenge President Obama and the Democratic majority.
"It's probably the most candid assessment that we have in a given week," Thune said, riding the subway to the Tuesday lunch.
With just 40 Republicans in the Senate now, Thune insists that there is still a diversity of GOP views - but one that he argues must be expanded.
"We want to see more people joining our party," Thune said.
"We've got to be able to accept the fact that a senator from the Northeast, for example, from the New England states, isn't going to be the same as a senator from the South."
In a leadership made up mostly of veteran senators from the South, 47-year-old Thune brings youth and what he calls the prairie sensibilities he learned growing up in small town South Dakota.