Former President Donald Trump won’t say whether he plans to be at the first Republican Party 2024 presidential candidates’ debate on August 23rd, but he’s still tossing out intimations that he’ll be very interested in listening to what the other participants have to offer him in terms of a possible running mate bid that night.
Already acting like the race winner is set months before the voting even starts, the establishment media treats Trump as though he’s got the contest locked up, so much so that they’re begging him for clues as to who he sees as his main sidekick. The nationally televised super-event in less than three weeks seems like it would be a great opportunity to begin separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff in terms of veep candidate bona fides.
One Republican who won’t be on the stage -- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem -- in Milwaukee is nevertheless generating rumors of Trump favor. In a piece titled “Gov. Noem Welcomes Trump to South Dakota, Fuels VP Speculation”, Philip Wegmann reported at Real Clear Politics the other day:
“For a governor from such a small state, Noem has an oversized national profile. She is a regular guest on Fox News, and as others jump into the race for the nomination, she has launched a nationwide workforce recruitment campaign to bring employees into the state. She stars in each spot.
“Noem delighted the Trump campaign when she told a local radio station that she didn’t ‘see a path to victory for anybody else with him in the race.’ All the same, she added, ‘I think people should saddle up – it could be a roller coaster of a presidential race.’ A source with direct knowledge of the governor’s thinking speculated that when Noem takes Trump’s hand and welcomes him to the stage in South Dakota in September, ‘It’ll look like a presidential ticket.’ The Trump campaign did not return requests for comment.
“Trump set off fresh speculation about whom he might pick as his number two if he wins the nomination when he posted on Truth Social Monday that he’d be watching the GOP presidential primary debate as a kind of talent scout. ‘Let them debate so I can see who I MIGHT consider for Vice President,’ he wrote. Trump is not expected to be on stage at that contest slated for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee.”
Really? Trump’s not expected to take part? I hadn’t heard this, but then again, Wegmann has sources who probably rely on something more concrete than the rumor mill created by the media for their prognostications. Trump’s continued to be coy about his debate plans, but it would seem to make sense that he’s more-probable-than-not planning to stay away from the first debate to see how the country – and the polls – reacts.
Trump’s position is almost like a star college athlete staying out of his school’s bowl game because he doesn’t want to risk a catastrophic injury. The guy’s draft position is pretty much assured, so what’s the benefit of getting your head beaten in for one last amateur hurrah?
Besides, I hadn’t realized until now just how refreshing it is to have a new name injected into the conversation in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race. For month upon month the buzz has surrounded Trump, Ron DeSantis, whoever else happened to be in the news at the hour and, of course, Democrat nominee-to-be senile Joe Biden and whether the old dolt can make it past the finish line to actually compete for reelection.
Potentially having Noem in the game makes it that much more interesting, because no one’s really talked about her for a long, long time. You may recall Noem was prominently mentioned among the possible 2024 candidates, perhaps until she ran into trouble by vetoing a “Save Women’s Sports” bill in South Dakota that, on its surface – and its red-hot topic – was a no-brainer to support if you’re a potential competitor for the big prize. For whatever reason, Noem rejected the legislation (it subsequently was passed into law) and the damage was done.
Here's thinking Noem opted not to run in 2024 for at least a couple reasons. First, she (rightly) figured she couldn’t win, primarily because there wasn’t a “lane” for her to occupy. The conservative get-things-done governor lane was almost certain to be taken up by Ron DeSantis, the darling of the get-beyond-Trump crowd who displayed a similar talent for attracting hostile establishment media coverage as Trump does himself.
Noem is no hanger-on or conservative pretender -- she has a pretty good record in South Dakota, and hers was one of the states that led the way in staying open during the COVID lockdown farce, but much of the up-and-comer energy would be in DeSantis’s camp. So Noem couldn’t claim that mantle.
And she also couldn’t claim ownership on the “woman candidate lane” since South Carolina’s Nikki Haley was going around telling folks that she was planning to run. Haley was the first to openly challenge Trump and her entrance into the “field” generated its usual week-or-so of stimulating buzz back in February and then everyone forgot about her. But Nikki still receives the media’s “she’s the lone female candidate” discussion and Haley seems to be hanging around just so she can vie for the Trump vice presidential nod privilege.
So, at best, Noem would’ve shared the “I’m a woman!” position with Haley, which is not exactly the greatest place in the world to be in. The GOP isn’t like the Democrats who have a ton of women who run simply because of their purported gender qualifications. Think back to 2020 – there was “Pocahontas” Warren, boring-as-all-get-out Senator Amy Klobuchar, annoying as heck New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, common sense talking (and therefore automatically disqualified) former Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and, last but not least, “big prize” winner cackling Kamala Harris, who actually didn’t even make it to the caucus/primary calendar.
Oh yeah, there was loony fringe candidate Marianne Williamson, too… but seriously?
Therefore, Noem couldn’t establish uniqueness or brand in GOP politics simply because of her gender status.
Noem most likely didn’t end up launching a campaign because she figured she could attract just as much consideration for the vice president’s slot by staying out of the fray as she could by doing the candidate dance like the others in the already bloated Republican field. It’s arguable that Noem could’ve done well in Iowa, since South Dakota borders The Hawkeye State and the issues that Iowans are preoccupied with are the same or similar to what Noem’s been working on for years.
South Dakota doesn’t have the largest population, but it’s still thought of as a prominent member of the upper Midwest club. Put it this way, Noem would’ve come into the 2024 horserace in a much better starting gate position than the North Dakota governor would, right? Lots of conservatives know Noem for a plethora of reasons, but who is North Dakota’s Doug Burgum?
And it also could be that Noem banked on Trump dominating the 2024 field because of his inherent strength with the Republican grassroots. So to stay back from the barbs of the always-on-edge Trump and remain in his good graces was a sound strategy for her. Even if Trump didn’t end up the nominee – or was encapsulated by legal troubles – and someone else wound up the nomination winner, who wouldn’t at least desire to bring in Kristi Noem for vetting and an interview?
Noem is very articulate, a frequent guest in conservative media, extremely camera friendly and presents herself in all the right ways to appeal to the three legs of the vaunted “conservative stool” (national security conservatives, social conservatives and fiscal conservatives). There’s not a heck of a lot to dislike about Noem, so she’s a great potential veep for any Republican winner.
Kristi is also well-known enough where she wouldn’t be a “shock” to the system like Sarah Palin was in 2008, when the then Alaska governor was basically introducing herself to everyone in the country at the same time John McCain was parading her before the heinous and biased news media. Who knew, for example, that Palin’s Alaska nickname was “Sarah Barracuda”?
Noem, if chosen for Trump’s running mate, would almost certainly draw similar contempt from the slime-covered establishment media, many of which are the same people who originally sharpened their fangs on the relatively “ordinary” person of Palin. They’d no doubt go out of their way to depict Kristi as a backwoods, non-woke, whiter than white country bumpkin who shouldn’t be permitted to supplant Kamala Harris as a woman in the vice president’s chair.
Like they did with Palin, Democrats must paint Noem as “extreme” and a threat to women’s rights, abortion access, advancement for little girls, “pussy hat” nutcases, race pushers, social media “influencers” such as Dylan Mulvaney, Democrat hypocrisies on free speech – and everything else liberal party members see as sacred to their ongoing effort to turn the United States into a “woke” socialist dystopia populated by illegal aliens and climate kooks.
Admittedly, I don’t know what their specific avenues of attack on Noem might be other than the usual ones just listed. One of Kristi’s greatest selling points (to Trump or the eventual GOP nominee) is the fact she comes from a “normal” background and hasn’t stepped on skulls to obtain her lofty position (unlike cackling Kamala, who slept her way to the top).
These days, half the battle for any Republican running for high office is being able to sidestep the landmines laid for all conservatives by the Democrats and the establishment media. Gov. Kristi Noem didn’t throw her hat into the 2024 ring and the humble move may pay off for her in time with a call from the GOP nominee regarding the second spot on the party ticket.
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