South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is expected to support former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in her home state on Friday, two sources familiar with the project told CNN, fueling speculation about the role the Republican governor could play in his third candidacy for the White Party. Home.
Once a potential 2024 candidate, Noem first distanced herself from Trump after last fall’s midterm elections and the launch of her latest campaign. She told The New York Times at the time that she didn’t believe the former president offered the Republican Party “the best chance” in 2024.
However, the South Dakota governor has since changed her mind, stepping back from the White House bid and offering her support to Trump. But Noem still hopes to participate in the 2024 talks. She has remained in touch and on good terms with the former president, according to sources familiar with their interactions. Although Noem did not attend the first Republican presidential debate last month, ads touting his state’s low taxes and job opportunities ran during that debate and on Fox News ever since.
Noem has another connection: Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager and Trump confidant, has been advising her since 2020. Lewandowski’s on-and-off relationship with the former president has stabilized, sources say, and he now speaks to Trump regularly.
“The thing is, none of them can win as long as Trump is in the race. And these are just facts. So why run if you can’t win,” Noem, who has been in touch with Trump and his team, said of the former president’s main rivals in an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
While she’s expected to officially pledge her support for Trump on Friday — a move most other Republican governors have been reluctant to make so far — Noem balked at questions about her interest in the nation’s second-highest office. .
“Of course I would think about it,” Noem recently told Fox News host Sean Hannity when asked if she would be Trump’s vice president.
Noem’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Noem’s moves to keep some of the attention on her in 2024 have led some Republicans to consider her a potential running mate for Trump should he win the nomination.
“When (Noem’s) name comes up in conversation, it’s been positive,” a source close to Trump said. “She was faithful to him. She is eloquent, she defends him but does not steal the show.
Noem’s ambitions have been extensive for quite some time now. In 2016, she was selected to become Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture before deciding not to pursue that process. In 2022, as she ran for re-election, she chose to run digital campaign ads on Facebook in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – early voting states that are clearly important for a presidential candidate. A former state legislator who also represented South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives for four terms, Noem flirted with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate in 2022 when it looked like the senator Republican John Thune was not going to seek another term, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the governor’s actions at the time. Ultimately, Thune chose to run for office and Noem chose not to run in the primaries, despite Trump publicly encouraging her to challenge the senator.
What Republican operatives are reading today is that Noem is keeping open the most likely potential avenues to serve in a Trump administration — whether as vice president or cabinet minister.
“I think she’s looking to keep all of her options open. While everything is so fluid on the national stage, she has been very successful in setting an example for her state during Covid and all these burning issues nationally. She kept her state front and center,” Republican strategist Matt Langston said. “She has a bright future. She sticks to Trump, who is smart at this point.”
Langston added: “Now seems a good time to come out and engage in speculation about key Cabinet positions. If you wait and things clear up – Trump is the nominee or there’s only one or two left – the value of being from a smaller state, a state where they’re not really in everyone’s vanguard, they are not in the eyes of the American public. . This is a very good time for her to step in and show real value to the Trump campaign. It installs well.
Strategists do see some sort of federal function in the governor’s future. A Republican strategist with extensive knowledge of South Dakota politics said Noem could become Republican Sen. Mike Rounds when the two-term senator (a former governor himself) is re-elected in 2026.
“I have a feeling Governor Noem isn’t done with DC,” the strategist said. “If I were Mike Rounds, I’d be looking over my shoulder.”
Trump advisers insist there have been no serious conversations with the former president about a potential running mate, though that hasn’t stopped Trump from fueling the speculations.
“Let them debate so I can see who I COULD consider VP!” Trump posted on his Truth Social platform ahead of last month’s Republican primary debate, which he ignored. The former president has complained about many 2024 candidates and called them disloyal, leaving little indication of his willingness to run alongside them.
Trump’s obsession with loyalty will be at the heart of his potential choice of running mate, especially after what he sees as a betrayal by his former vice president, Mike Pence, two people have said. sources close to Trump.
Trump has been known to announce the names of his allies as potential running mates after spending time with them, never to mention them again. He also said privately that he thought it would be a good idea to choose a woman for the position, which many allies and advisers encouraged.
A number of Trump allies appear to be heading for a position on his eventual vice-presidential shortlist.
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is always quick to defend Trump, supported him early on, and speaks regularly with the former president, updating him on events in the House. Trump privately praised her for her loyalty.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has long been rumored to be seeking to become Trump’s running mate – regularly attending his rallies and posting after her federal indictment in the 2020 election interference investigation that she would still vote for Trump even though he was in jail.
When asked if he would be willing to serve as Trump’s vice president or in a future Trump administration, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, whose support for the former president over his state’s governor original Ron DeSantis sent shockwaves through the Sunshine State, CNN told CNN: “Listen, who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t? It’s something that really depends on him and his team. I have no control over this. But for me, and you know, I told them that, I want to win. I just want to win and get this country back on track.
Kari Lake, a former TV anchor who was the losing GOP candidate in the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race, has become a fixture in the Trump world. While openly considering her candidacy for the US Senate, she is also seen as vying for a spot on Trump’s slate.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Governor Kristi Noem attended the Republican presidential primary debate in August. She does not have.