Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a Republican fundraiser in South Dakota, while his competitors are focusing on hosting town halls and meet-and-greet events in states where early voting is taking place.
Washington; While his rivals engage in town halls and meet-and-greet events in early voting states, Donald Trump will be traveling to South Dakota on Friday for a party fundraiser. This event also serves as an opportunity for the state’s governor, Kristi Noem, to position herself as a potential vice presidential candidate.
Donald Trump is set to participate in a “Monumental Leaders Rally” hosted by the South Dakota Republican Party in Rapid City. During this event, Governor Kristi Noem will make an appearance alongside the former president and is anticipated to officially endorse him. This move aims to project an image of a potential presidential ticket, as per insights from two senior Republicans familiar with her plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity since the endorsement had not been publicly announced.
Trump’s choice to headline this event highlights his prominent position within the Republican field, despite facing four separate indictments and 91 felony counts. It’s worth noting that South Dakota holds a late primary and isn’t typically a competitive state in a general election. However, Trump, with a substantial lead, is deviating from the conventional primary campaign approach. Rather than hosting large-scale rallies, he’s leaning on state party events that provide sizable, supportive crowds at minimal campaign cost. Meanwhile, his political organization is allocating significant funds for legal expenses.
The event on Friday serves as a sort of audition for Governor Noem. It’s designed as a platform for her to provide her endorsement and also to maximize her interactions with Trump, who is considering potential running mates and cabinet members for a 2024 bid, as per information from one of the anonymous Republicans. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the matter.
Governor Noem is facing term limits in 2026 and, having chosen not to run for president in the current election cycle, is carefully considering her next steps to maintain her influence within the GOP.
According to Michael Card, a seasoned observer of South Dakota politics, there’s a perceived 50-50 chance of Donald Trump getting elected again. Given this, he suggests that aligning with Trump makes sense. Additionally, he speculates that Governor Noem might consider roles like the presidency of the National Rifle Association or becoming a conservative commentator in the future to maintain her prominence.
Voting for the upcoming election is still several months away, and Trump’s indictments and upcoming trials introduce an unprecedented element that could impact the race in unexpected ways, according to many strategists. Nevertheless, individuals vying to be considered as Trump’s running mate are actively positioning themselves and seeking favor with him and his advisors.
While it’s cautioned that it’s too early for serious discussions, Trump has expressed interest in selecting a woman for the role this time. Some other names that have been floated for consideration include New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, unsuccessful Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn. Florida Rep. Byron Donalds and Sen. Tim Scott have also been mentioned.
Donald Trump is scheduled to be in Iowa on Saturday, attending the college football game between Iowa and Iowa State, which is significant as Iowa is the first state in the GOP nomination calendar.
Campaign spokesman Steven Cheung emphasized their focus on securing the primary and shifting toward the general election.
Governor Noem was once seen as a potential White House contender herself. However, she had previously expressed doubts about Trump’s chances as the best option for the party in 2024. Since then, she appears to have decided against entering the crowded field running for the nomination, given Trump’s strong position within the party.
Governor Noem recently expressed her openness to considering a role on a potential Trump ticket if asked, stating, “If President Trump is going to be back in the White House, I’d do all I can to help him be successful.”
Trump’s upcoming visit to South Dakota marks his first since the summer of 2020, when he headlined a Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore. This event was significant as it provided a venue for the then-president to shift focus after a period of pandemic lockdowns and racial justice protests. Notably, Noem’s event at Mount Rushmore did not have pandemic restrictions in place, and she also gifted Trump a miniature replica of Mount Rushmore featuring his likeness alongside the founding presidents.
When asked about Governor Noem endorsing him, Trump mentioned, “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.” He has consistently praised her handling of the pandemic, reiterating on Thursday that she had done “a fantastic job.”
Kristi Noem, a former member of Congress, secured a closely contested victory in 2018 to become South Dakota’s first female governor. She gained national recognition by adopting a relatively hands-off approach to the pandemic, aligning closely with Trump’s calls to return to normalcy. Despite performing less well than other Republicans on the ballot, she easily won reelection last year.
Governor Noem has actively maintained a national presence, even though she hasn’t pursued a presidential run. She has been a vocal advocate for the National Rifle Association and proudly mentioned her 1-year-old granddaughter’s exposure to firearms at a spring convention for the organization. Noem has also staunchly defended South Dakota’s abortion ban and is set to appear at a fundraiser in Michigan to support Republican Senate candidate Mike Rogers later this month.
Furthermore, during the initial GOP presidential debate, she featured in an advertisement promoting her state as “the freest state in America,” encouraging both businesses and families to consider relocating there.
Friday’s event is anticipated to attract protesters targeting both Trump and Noem, as indicated by Annie Bachand, the CEO of the South Dakota-based group Liberty & Justice for All. Bachand mentioned their presence aims to demonstrate to others that they are not alone and to voice concerns about Noem’s priorities.
South Dakota GOP chair John Wiik expects around 7,000 attendees at the sold-out fundraiser. Initially planned as a typical Lincoln Day-style fundraising dinner by local Republican groups, it has evolved into a larger rally, with the proceeds directed toward the state party.
South Dakota GOP chair John Wiik acknowledged that there were initial questions about Trump’s decision to visit the state just as the primary season entered its traditional post-Labor Day surge. However, he emphasized that Trump is a significant media attraction wherever he goes, noting that Trump’s presence alone can draw attention and followers. Wiik expressed his satisfaction that Trump selected South Dakota as the destination for this event.