South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem targeting pikes against other Republicans seen as 2024 presidential candidates
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Long before the first presidential nomination contest in 2024, most potential Republican candidates are just getting a feel for the political landscape, scouring early voting states and trying to make up their minds. friends in key locations. Then there is Kristi Noem.
The South Dakota governor has stormed out as she tries to carve out a place among an early crowd of possible GOP rivals for the White House. Her combative style, unsurprisingly to those who follow her, shows how competitive the nomination race will be if Donald Trump stays on the sidelines.
Noem charged in Iowa on Friday singing a battle anthem and armed with barbed wire commentary for his fellow GOP governors. At a conservative rally in Des Moines, she told the crowd that she “really hated this America” under the baton of President Joe Biden, then led her to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
See: Federal judge rejects efforts by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to force National Park Service to allow Mount Rushmore fireworks
But Noem didn’t just target political enemies. She also sparked sharp comments over those from her own party, accusing other GOP governors of “rewriting history” by claiming they had kept their states open during the pandemic.
“Pretending that they didn’t take action they didn’t have the power to take is not based on the truth,” she told reporters on Friday.
It’s easy to see why the 49-year-old governor, who is known as a scorched earth activist in her home state, is hunting anyone who tries to claim a more passive approach to the pandemic. She doesn’t have the experience of working alongside Trump like Mike Pence, Nikki Haley or Mike Pompeo – all of whom have visited the Iowa presidential proving ground in recent days. Other potential rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have the advantage of ruling states that feature prominently in national politics.
The pandemic was the rocket fuel for Noem’s political rise. While she had laid the groundwork to build a national profile and look for ways to make South Dakota a testing ground for conservative politics, she jumped on denouncing the coronavirus restrictions early on.
Archives (November 2020): Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota in August linked to more than 250,000 coronavirus cases, study finds
Also (November 2020): Sturgis Motorcyle Rally has caused at least 86 cases of COVID-19 in neighboring Minnesota, CDC says
Conservatives across the country have since made efforts to try and stop the spread of the pandemic in a favorite punching bag. At the Family Leadership Summit, where Noem spoke alongside Pence, Pompeo and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, speakers warned that government restrictions were eroding personal freedoms. DeSantis even began selling “Don’t Fauci My Florida” merchandise to raise money for his gubernatorial re-election campaign, targeting another favorite target, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Noem did not mention DeSantis by name in a speech Sunday at another conservative conference in Texas, but appeared to distinguish him when she accused other GOP governors of “pretending” that they had not closed their beaches.
“All I’m saying is we need leaders with courage. That their first instinct is to make the right decision, ”Noem told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Keywords: Governor Ron DeSantis Sells ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ Products Even As His State’s COVID-19 Cases Rise
But as a first wave of virus cases hit his condition in the spring of last year, Noem first showed his willingness to step in and use the strength of his office. She declared an emergency and told schools to close, urged a meat-packing plant to temporarily close after an outbreak among workers, and even issued a stay-at-home order in two hard-hit counties for people over. 65 years of age or vulnerable to the virus.
Archives (March 2020): “This situation will not be over in a week,” says Noem of South Dakota as governors react to Trump’s rush to reopen
Although Noem never ordered businesses to close, many did. And city leaders, frustrated with Noem’s inaction, issued their own orders that forced many people to shut down for weeks in the spring.
However, as the response to the virus became increasingly politicized, Noem rose to the forefront of governors who opposed government orders. By June 2020, his message had changed: “More freedom, not more government, is the answer. “
Sometimes referring to the ripple effects of the pandemic on the economy and mental health, she touted that her state had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and a growing economy.
But even though virus cases and deaths increased last year, she refused to urge people to wear masks in public. Instead, the state spent more in federal coronavirus funds on an advertising campaign inviting tourists to visit than it did on public health advertising.
As his Fox News appearances increased, conservatives across the country began to suggest he run for president. Noem objected when asked publicly about her White House ambitions and said she was focusing on next year’s gubernatorial campaign. But recent actions – from registering a federal political action committee to participating in the national speech circuit – show that she has her views beyond South Dakota.
It is unclear how his toll on the virus would play beyond the Republican base.
South Dakota has recorded the nation’s 10th highest COVID-19 death rate. Although some states with much more aggressive approaches to mitigating the pandemic experienced similar results, South Dakota had the worst death rate in the Midwest. But that didn’t stop Noem from bragging about it.
“When I ran for governor, I ran on the fact that he was an example for the nation,” she told the crowd on Friday. “I had no idea this was going to happen during a pandemic. “