The conservative governor and strong Trump ally told Fox News on Friday that the former president “had America right where we needed her. His policies were right. So I’m counting on him running.”
Political pundits view Noem as a possible contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, especially if Trump decides against launching a White House campaign. And her stop in Iowa, the state whose caucuses for half a century have led off the presidential nominating calendar, sparked more speculation about her potential national ambitions.
“It’s my neighboring state. I’m here all the time. I was just here earlier this week,” she said. And pointing to Iowa’s GOP governor, Noem said “Kim Reynolds asked me to come to this conference and I said absolutely, I’ll do anything for Kim.”
Noem, who’s up for reelection in 2022, has become a hero to conservatives over the past year for her resistance to coronavirus pandemic restrictions. “We were the only state that didn’t close a single business. We didn’t shelter in place,” she said in her speech. “We didn’t mandate anything. We just trusted people.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the Family Leadership Summit, Friday, July 16, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
But as the number of new COVID cases across the country’s on the rise among unvaccinated Americans, the governor told Fox News “we are continuing to monitor COVID hospitalizations in the state of South Dakota,” but she added that overall her state is “in good shape.”
Asked about the reinstatement of a mask mandate in Los Angeles as the potent Delta variant continues to surge, Noem argued that “putting in more mandates at this time would not be the right answer.”
In her address, Noem spotlighted her social conservative credentials. “I have committed to be the most pro-life governor there is,” she said. “I believe I’m still the only governor in the country who has a person on staff whose job description is to be an unborn child advocate.”
She also said she’s “putting prayer back in our schools.”
The governor said the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is her favorite song. “We need an example in this country of people who are faithful even during challenging times,” she said.
She then concluded her appearance by leading the audience in the singing of the song.
Noem also used her address – as she did a week earlier at a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas – to take aim at President Biden and his Democratic administration.
“Joe Biden’s America . . . is built on hate, division, on pitting people against each other, and it is a shame to watch the violence and the crime the lack of unity,” she claimed.