Multiple criminal indictments notwithstanding, one of the biggest questions of the 2024 election cycle is who former President Donald Trump will pick to be his running mate -- presuming, of course, that he actually wins the GOP nomination for which he is the clear and undisputed frontrunner.
One potential vice presidential nominee is Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who will join Trump in a major fundraiser event in Rapid City on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Noem, who is expected to officially endorse Trump to be the 2024 Republican nominee at the event, has already answered in the affirmative when asked previously if she would accept an offer from the former president to be his running mate and vice president if re-elected.
The AP reported that former President Trump and Gov. Noem will appear together side by side at a "Monumental Leaders Rally" on Friday in Rapid City that will be hosted by the South Dakota Republican Party, which will benefit from all of the proceeds raised and distribute them among local parties and campaigns as it best sees fit.
This will be Trump's first visit to South Dakota since Noem hosted him in July 2020 for an Independence Day celebration at Mt. Rushmore, where she gifted him with a miniature replica of the iconic landmark that also had his face chiseled into the granite alongside legendary former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
When asked on Thursday if he expected Noem to formally endorse him, Trump told reporters, "I don’t know exactly. But I am going. I like her a lot. I think she’s great. Kristi’s done a great job."
The AP noted that Trump has strongly indicated that he will pick a female running mate in this 2024 cycle and that some of the top contenders to be Trump's VP choice include "New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn." Politico reported that Gov. Noem is now "front and center in the veepstakes" and has a good shot at being chosen by former President Trump above all of the others.
In addition to hosting Trump at the Friday fundraiser, Noem has also launched a nationwide ad campaign touting her state of South Dakota as a beacon of freedom and prosperity and sanctuary from the ideological left's agenda, and has also bolstered that public relations campaign and raised her own profile with regular appearances on friendly right-leaning media outlets.
"It’s clear that she’s positioning herself to get to be selected as vice president or, in the alternative, if something happens where President Trump starts to falter, or doesn’t receive the nomination, to run for president to pick up the MAGA flag and carry the banner," an anonymous Noem donor told Politico. "Everybody assumes she’s running. It’s very obvious. Not a week goes by where she’s not on Fox News. It’s a national strategy."
On Thursday, Gov. Noem appeared on Newsmax and, when asked if she would accept a VP offer from Trump, replied, "Yeah. I mean, I would in a heartbeat. Just because, you know, you respect the position and the person who asks you to do something and then see if you really believe that you could make a difference."
"President Trump needs a strong partner if he's going to take back the White House," she continued. "He's going to need somebody who knows what it's like to run a business, to be an employee, earn a paycheck, but also having a wife, mom, and a grandma isn't bad, either. And I think that that kind of perspective would weigh in very well on a lot of policy decisions."
Noem had initially demurred on the question and said "It's early to be having these conversations. Obviously, President Trump is doing very well in the Republican primary. I don't see how anybody else can beat him and I've supported him in this race because he's the best one to lead our country."
"We don't have to guess what kind of decisions he would make. We've seen his strong leadership in national security issues and also taking care of families here at home," she continued. "Certainly, he'd be 1,000 times better than [President] Joe Biden and how he is devastating our country right now."
"I think anybody that is asked to step up during these challenging times should consider it. Everybody needs to look at what they can do to play a role in leading a life of significance. That's really going to make a huge difference for our kids and our grandkids," Noem added. "So, great Americans who cherish their freedom and want to continue to live in liberty, they need to consider anything they're asked to do."