South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem turned some heads this week when she responded to a question over whether she would join former President Donald Trump’s 2024 ticket.
“Once a potential 2024 candidate herself, Noem initially inched away from Trump after last fall’s midterm elections and the launch of his latest campaign. She told The New York Times at the time that she didn’t believe the former president offered ‘the best chance’ for the Republican Party in 2024,” CNN reported on Friday.
“However, the South Dakota governor has since changed her tune, opting out of a White House bid and offering support for Trump. But Noem is still angling to be in the 2024 discussion. She’s remained in contact and on good terms with the former president, according to sources familiar with their interactions,” the outlet continued.
“Though Noem didn’t attend last month’s first Republican presidential debate, ads touting her state’s low taxes and job openings aired during it and since then on Fox News,” CNN added.
Noem has ties to Trump in a number of ways. She’s been in contact with his campaign and with him, CNN noted, and her current adviser since 2020, Corey Lewandowski, is a former Trump campaign manager and confidante.
Last month, in an interview with “Fox & Friends,” Noem — whose name came up early on when the discussion turned to potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates — gave her views on how successful she thought the declared candidates would be when it came to running against Trump for the nomination.
“The fact is, none of them can win as long as Trump’s in the race. And that’s just the facts. So why run if you can’t win,” she said.
Noem’s ambitions have been expansive for some time now. In 2016, she was vetted to be Trump’s secretary of agriculture before deciding against continuing that process. In 2022, as she was running for reelection, she opted to run digital campaign ads on Facebook in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – early-voting states that are conspicuously important for a presidential candidate. A former state lawmaker who also represented South Dakota in the US House for four terms, Noem flirted with running for US Senate in 2022 when it seemed like GOP Sen. John Thune wasn’t going to run for another term, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the governor’s moves at the time. Ultimately, Thune opted to run for reelection, and Noem chose not to jump into the primary, despite Trump publicly encouraging her to challenge the senator.
Citing GOP operatives, CNN said it now appeared most likely that Noem is angling for a Trump Cabinet position or, possibly, to become his running mate.
“I think she’s angling to keep all her options open. With everything being so fluid on the national stage, she has been very good about pushing her state as an example during Covid and all of these national hot-button issues. She’s kept her state at the forefront,” Republican strategist Matt Langston told CNN. “She’s got a bright future. She’s sticking with Trump, which is smart at this stage.”
Langston noted further: “The timing seems right to get out and get into the mix on speculation on key Cabinet positions. If you wait and the field gets cleared – Trump is the nominee or it’s down to one or two – the value of being from a smaller state, a state where they are really not at everyone’s forefront, they’re not on the American public’s eye. This is a real good time for her to insert herself and show real value to the Trump campaign. It sets herself up nicely.”