Trump visits South Dakota for rally with possible VP running mate Gov. Kristi Noem

Trump visits South Dakota for rally with possible VP running mate Gov. Kristi Noem

Trump visits South Dakota for rally with possible VP running mate Gov. Kristi Noem

WASHINGTON — As his rivals hold town halls and meet-and-greets in early voting states, Donald Trump will head to South Dakota Friday for a party fundraiser that will double as an opportunity for the state's governor, Kristi Noem, to showcase herself as a potential vice presidential pick.

Trump will join the South Dakota Republican Party for a “Monumental Leaders Rally” in Rapid City. Noem will appear alongside the former president and is expected to endorse him, creating an image of the pair that Noem’s allies hope looks like a presidential ticket, according to two senior Republicans familiar with her thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity because she had not yet made her endorsement public.

Gov. Noem would 'consider' V.P. slot

Chad Groening, AFN.net 

South Dakota’s popular Republican governor says she would consider a V.P. slot if she is asked by former president Donald Trump.

With the former president coming to her state for a campaign rally, Fox News asked Gov. Noem if Trump has talked to her about joining his ticket.

"We have not discussed it at all,” she replied, “and I would say everybody, if asked to serve, should consider it.”

Noem has been keeping in front of the public eye by doing public service announcements inviting people to move to the state for employment opportunities.

In 2020, she was the only state governor in the country who refused to shut down the state's economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald Trump plans to appear in Rapid City for a sold-out rally.

“Of course [Trump] is absolutely the best choice for us,” she told Fox. “I don't know of any other candidate that's running for president right now that fought when it mattered.”

Trump's decision to headline the event underscores his dominance of the Republican race even as he faces four separate indictments and 91 felony counts. South Dakota holds a late primary and isn't competitive in a general election. But with a huge lead, Trump is skipping much of the traditional primary campaign. Instead of large-scale rallies, he is relying on state party events that offer large, friendly audiences at no cost to his campaign, while his political organization pays millions of dollars in legal expenses.

Friday’s event is something of an audition for Noem. She planned the event as a way to both offer her endorsement and maximize face time with Trump as he eyes potential 2024 running mates and cabinet members, according to one of the Republicans who spoke on anonymously. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment.

Noem will be term-limited in 2026 and, after declining to run for president this year, is eyeing her next move to maintain prominence in the GOP.

“I think Donald Trump has a 50-50 shot of getting elected at this point, so why not hitch your wagon to him if you can?” said Michael Card, a longtime observer of South Dakota politics who suggested Noem might also make a future National Rifle Association president or conservative commentator.

Voting won’t begin for several months and Trump’s indictments and upcoming criminal trials create an unprecedented situation that many strategists argue could influence the race in unexpected ways. That hasn’t stopped those who are keen to be considered as Trump's running mate from openly jockeying for the position and trying to curry favor with him and his aides.

Aides caution it is far too early for serious discussions. But Trump has indicated in conversations that he is interested in selecting a woman this time around. Among the other names that have been floated: New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn. Florida Rep. Byron Donalds and Sen. Tim Scott have also been mentioned.

Trump will be in Iowa, the first state on the GOP nomination calendar, on Saturday to attend the college football game between Iowa and Iowa State.

"What we’re focused on is just locking up this primary and pivoting towards the general election,” said campaign spokesman Steven Cheung.