Donald Trump’s resilience in polls of the Republican presidential primary field is shifting attention to what, for the moment at least, is the only truly competitive national race for 2024: the contest to be his running mate.
Speculation over Trump’s potential vice president — a decision that would rest solely with him — has remained an undercurrent in the primary race as his rivals for the nomination, including former Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, a pair of South Carolina Republicans, regularly distance themselves from questions about their possible interest in the No. 2 job.
One Republican welcoming those questions has been Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota. She isn’t running for the White House, and she recently told Fox News that “of course” she would consider joining a ticket with Trump.
Noem, 51, fueled further vice-presidential conjecture by endorsing the former president at a rally Friday evening in her home state.
“Tonight, Mr. President, my message is clear: It is an honor to have you with us in South Dakota,” Noem said in front of a crowd of thousands in Rapid City. “You made America great again once. Let’s do it again.”
Trump took the stage, briefly hugging Noem and exchanging words. Then, for a quick second, a graphic reading “TRUMP NOEM 2024” flashed on the giant screen above the stage.
“Kristi is a warrior for American values,” Trump said, going on to compliment her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and her policies in South Dakota.
“I get endorsements, some good, some bad,” he said. “Some don’t mean anything. Hers means a lot.”
While South Dakota holds little sway in the Republican presidential primary contest — and even less in a general election — Noem’s endorsement is noteworthy because only eight of the nation’s 26 Republican governors have publicly picked sides so far.