Has Gov. Kristi Noem hitched her wagon to a fading political star?
That conclusion could be easily made after watching Donald Trump announce that he’s seeking another four years in the White House Tuesday night.
As the Washington Post reported, the announcement at his Florida Mar-a-Lago Club came in a moment of political vulnerability for Trump as voters resoundingly rejected his endorsed candidates in last week’s midterm elections. Since then, elected Republicans have been unusually forthright in blaming Trump for the party’s underperformance and potential rivals are already openly plotting challenging Trump for the nomination.
As of Wednesday morning, there’s been no tweets or any other social media announcement from Gov. Noem indicating that she was in Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night to personally watch the former guy speech. But, there’s a good chance she was there. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) happens to be meeting in Orlando, Florida, this week and Gov. Noem took part in a panel discussion at that event on Tuesday with Govs. Pete Ricketts, Kim Reynolds, Chris Sununu and Bill Lee.
Noem’s message to her fellow Republicans, according to NBC reporter Allan Smith: “We’re not inspiring that generation right now (young voters) ... We have to figure out a way to message to younger individuals ... because they’re just buying the propaganda that’s in their classrooms ...”
Noem also said, according to Smith: “We (Republicans) can’t keep waiting for that instant-gratification feedback.” He notes that she also said, when asked to predict what may happen politically in 2024: “I don’t think anyone can predict it right now.”
After watching Trump’s performance Tuesday night (and I admittedly have only had time to watch a few clips of his speech) the former president was not exactly inspiring.
The Associated Press notes that “another campaign is a remarkable turn for any former president, much less one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the Capitol in a deadly bid to halt the peaceful transition of power on Jan. 6, 2021.”
The Washington Post also observes that “… A defeated former president running for election again while facing potential criminal indictment is unprecedented in U.S. history. Trump becomes the first former president to run again since Theodore Roosevelt, and the first since Grover Cleveland to do so after losing reelection. He is the only president to be impeached twice, and the only one impeached by a bipartisan vote.”
Yet, a recent South Dakota News Watch report notes that while Noem remains non-committal about aspirations to run for president in 2024 or to make the national ticket as a vice presidential nominee, “her national travel and fundraising activities — she had $7.8 million in her state campaign committee as of the last reporting date — point to someone putting themselves in position to make that leap. In addition to visiting early Republican primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Noem has held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, spoken in Dallas at the National Rifle Association convention (days after a deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school in May of 2022) and recently appeared in Arizona with GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who supports Trump’s baseless contention that he won the 2020 election.”
Another sign that Noem will likely continue national travel and fundraising forays is her acceptance speech after winning re-election as governor earlier this month. Like Trump’s speech, I haven’t bothered to try to listen to the governor’s talk the night of Nov. 11.
I’m struck, however, by a photo of her making that speech. On her podium is an emblem that appears to be a knock-off of the presidential seal. It contains the words “Kristi Noem” on the top. On the bottom it reads “America’s Governor.”
Not South Dakota’s governor.
That means, I think, that Noem will continue her campaign for a higher office with Trump.
And if that doesn’t work out, she likely will abandon him, just as she will abandon the office of South Dakota governor.