South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem tries to distance herself from Trump

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Noem told the New York Times that Trump is not the 'best chance' for Republicans to take back the White House, but later walked back her comments.

Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, told the New York Times last week that former President Donald Trump did not offer "the best chance" for a Republican ticket to win the White House in 2024, only days after the former president formally announced his intention to run again.

Noem made the comments during a Republican governors' conference in Orlando at which, according to the New York Times, a main theme was GOP losses since Trump's presidency began in 2017.

"Our job," she said, "is not just to talk to people who love Trump or hate Trump. Our job is to talk to every single American."

However, she walked back the comments on a Nov. 17 episode of "The War Room," a podcast hosted by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, criticizing the Republican National Committee and calling the New York Times "liars."

Speaking about the RNC, Noem said:

Who loses this much and gets to keep their job, Steve? We just need to recognize that last cycle we lost the White House, the House and the Senate. Now, we underperformed this session as well, this cycle. I've been in business my whole life: farming, ranching, running hunting lodges, restaurants, businesses. It's just, you have to reevaluate all the time and look inward and see who's on the team and who's leading the team and pointing the right direction. If you're not getting the results that you want, then you have to change it up.

She later called the New York Times "liars" for publishing her comments critical of Trump, saying instead that Trump shouldn't be the only person responsible for Republican messaging.

"What they printed is not what I said. What I said is that every single one of us as Republicans need to be messengers. It's all of our job," she said. "President Trump is the only one running for president, the only who's been president, he is obviously the leader of our party right now, and he has a responsibility, but we all do too."

During the interview, Noem also bragged about her record in South Dakota. "We're growing at 10 times the national average, Steve," she said, "and that's what is so incredible to me is that I don't have beaches to recruit people to. … If you want to live in South Dakota, you have to want to."

Noem won a second term this month with 62% of the vote. During her campaign, she said she would serve her entire term if reelected, but she told CBS over the summer that she isn't ruling out a presidential bid.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.