During a campaign event in Rapid City, South Dakota, over the weekend, Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota embraced former President Donald Trump, who is running for the Republican nomination for president.
Polls of the Republican presidential primary candidates show that Donald Trump is still in the lead. This is drawing attention to what is, for now at least, the only truly competitive national race for 2024: the race to be his running mate.
Trump would be the only one who could choose his vice president, but speculation about who that might be has stayed a part of the primary race. His rivals for the nomination, like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, avoid questions about whether they would be interested in being a vice presidential candidate.
But Gov. Noem of South Dakota, a Republican who is not running for the White House, has been happy to answer these questions. She recently told Fox News that “of course” she would think about running on the same ticket as Trump.
At a gathering over the weekend in her home state, Noem, who is 51 years old, backed the former president. This led to more rumors that she might run for vice president.
“Tonight, Mr. President, my message is clear: It is an honor to have you with us in South Dakota,” Noem told thousands of people in Rapid City. “Once, you helped make America great again. Let’s do it once more.”
Trump walked out on stage and quickly hugged and talked with Noem. Then, for a split second, a picture that said “Trump Noem 2024” showed on the big screen above the stage.
Trump said, “Kristi is a warrior for American values,” and then he praised how she handled the coronavirus pandemic and ran South Dakota.
He said, “I get endorsements, some good and some bad. Some of them have no meaning. Hers is very important.”
Even though South Dakota doesn’t matter much in the Republican presidential primary race and even less in a general election, Noem’s support is notable because only eight of the nation’s 26 Republican governors have publicly chosen sides so far.
Beyond Noem, only Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, Jim Justice of West Virginia, and Henry McMaster of South Carolina have backed Trump. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Doug Burgum of North Dakota are running against him.
Noem told Fox News that everyone should think about running for vice president. “If President Trump goes back to the White House, I will do everything I can to help him succeed.”
But people close to Trump say he hasn’t really thought much about a running mate yet. They say this is probably because he believes that thinking about a running mate could hurt his own election.
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump, said that the talk about the vice president showed that “everyone knows President Trump will be the nominee, and he continues to dominate every single poll.”
Along with Scott, Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, they have also been named as possible running mates for Trump on the Republican ticket.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who ran with Trump twice, doesn’t agree with the results of the 2020 election. This week, he called Trump’s patriotism “a road to ruin” for the party.
In an interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt this week, Trump said it was unlikely that he would choose a running mate soon. He also dismissed the idea that his running mate could help him campaign in the spring, when the former president will be facing multiple criminal cases.
Trump said, “There has never been a vice president who helped a president get elected. It doesn’t work that way. ” It sounds good and all, but the president is elected by himself.”
Trump backed Noem for governor in 2018, and she was a strong supporter of him while he was in office and has said so in recent television news interviews.
Before the campaign event in South Dakota, Noem told the conservative news outlet Newsmax that she would consider being Trump’s running mate “in a heartbeat” if asked.