South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was note convinced following the 2022 midterm elections that former President Donald Trump would be the best candidate to lead the Republican Party into the 2024 presidential elections, but she appears to have changed her tune.
Noem is expected to endorse Trump during a campaign rally in her state on Friday, CNN reported, citing a pair of sources familiar with the situation, “fueling speculation about the role the Republican governor may play in his third bid for the White House.”
Once considered as a potential 2024 candidate herself, Noem made clear earlier this year she would not be running and would instead focus her attention and energies on her state. However, in the months since, she appears to be raising her profile nationally ahead of next year’s presidential contest and has even sparked conversations about becoming Trump’s running mate.
“She’s remained in contact and on good terms with the former president, according to sources familiar with their interactions. 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 reported.
Noem also has another connection to Trump – Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager and confidante who has been an adviser to Noem since 2020.
Lewandowski and Trump had an on-again, off-again relationship for a time after the former president lost his reelection bid, but that appears to have leveled out now, and he regularly speaks to Trump, CNN said.
“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,” Noem, who has been in touch with Trump and his campaign staff, said of his primary rivals during an interview on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” last month.
Though she is reportedly ready to endorse Trump, many other GOP governors have yet to do so. But that could portend some sort of role in his orbit at some point in the future.
As for whether she would be Trump’s running mate, she told Fox News host Sean Hannity recently: “Of course, I would consider it.”
“When [Noem’s] name comes up in conversation, it’s been positive,” one source close to Trump told CNN. “She’s been loyal to him. She’s eloquent, she defends him but doesn’t steal the spotlight.”
Noem has harbored political aspirations for quite some time, CNN noted. In 2016, she underwent vetting for the position of Trump’s secretary of Agriculture but ultimately decided against pursuing it.
In 2022, while seeking re-election, she strategically ran digital campaign advertisements on Facebook in crucial early-voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, which hold significant sway for presidential candidates. Having served as a state legislator and represented South Dakota in the U.S. House for four terms, Noem contemplated a bid for the US Senate in 2022, especially when it seemed that GOP Sen. John Thune might not seek another term, as per two knowledgeable Republicans.
However, when Thune eventually chose to run for re-election, Noem opted not to enter the primary race, despite public encouragement from Trump to challenge the senator.
Currently, Republican operatives believe that Noem is angling for a path to potentially serving in a Trump administration, whether it be as a vice president or a member of the Cabinet.
“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 the outlet.
“She’s got a bright future. She’s sticking with Trump, which is smart at this stage,” he added.