South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem endorsed former President Donald Trump for president on Friday at a joint rally in Rapid City.
Reports of the Republican governor’s endorsement have fueled speculation that Noem may be in the running as a potential vice presidential pick for Trump should he win the Republican nomination for president in 2024. Noem, who received national attention for her handling of the COVID pandemic, touted her record and Trump’s before calling on Republicans to support him for president in 2024.
“It is my honor to present to you the man in the arena. He is a man of significance. He is the leader, the fighter that our country needs. He has my full and complete endorsement for President of the United States of America. I will do everything I can to help him win and save this country,” Noem said, before introducing Trump as the “45th and the 47th President of the United States.”
Noem touted Trump’s record on immigration and foreign policy, and she credited Trump for a loose hand on directing state action during the pandemic.
“Now, South Dakota, we focused on the facts. I respected my oaths to the United States’ and the South Dakota constitutions. I respected our freedom, and I respected our people. Now, if Joe Biden had been president, he would have tried to stop me from protecting you. Thank God President Trump was in the White House at the time,” Noem said.
Noem exhibited a relatively light touch during the pandemic. She issued limited stay-at-home orders to people with co-morbidities and those 65 years and older, and she publicly pressured some businesses, events, and schools to close down. She refrained from enacting the sweeping, heavy-handed mandates that were common in other states, however.
Trump took the stage after Noem, saying he was “very honored” to receive her endorsement. “I get endorsements, some good, some bad. I get endorsements that don’t mean anything. Her’s means a lot, let me tell you,” Trump said.