South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem Brings Quiet Fire to the California GOP Convention

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    AP Photo/Alex Brandon

    What seemed like a terrific idea at first — namely, having South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem as the featured speaker for the 2024 California GOP Convention taking place May 17-19 in Burlingame, California — doubtless became far less enthralling following the furor sparked by her ghostwritten biography, “No Going Back.” The outrage over Noem’s killing of a dog for failure to perform its allotted hunting duties, plus claims of having met with North Korean despot leader Kim Jong Un when no such event took place, have substantially weakened a politician once considered to have a strong chance at being named Donald Trump’s running mate in the 2024 election.

    The California GOP opted to take its lumps by not rescinding the invitation. Noem responded with a well-received, moderately-toned speech highlighting her political and operational philosophy, and the challenges Republicans face in 2024.

    Noem received a warm, standing ovation upon her introduction. She started her speech by commenting on how the South Dakota state motto (“Under God, the people rule”) was her guiding political principle. As she outlined, this leads to filtering all decisions through the twin lights of whether they correspond with the South Dakota and U.S. Constitutions. It was a theme she referred to several times during her speech.

    Noem first addressed the border issue. She noted how Mexican cartels are taking advantage of tribal law by setting up camp on Indian reservations within her state — where they are unhindered by state and federal law — from there conducting their heinous trade of drug and sex trafficking. Noem added how she is assisting Texas Governor Greg Abbott in his efforts to stem both the border invasion and the federal government’s mixture of indifference and open hostility toward thwarting it.

    Noem next commented on China. She noted that the United States is the only thing standing between China and world domination. Noem mentioned how China uses all means available, including perpetrating horrific human rights abuses against its citizens, as part of its plan to take control of and destroy the United States, from within as well as without.

    Noem next referred to her previously stated theme of making all political decisions via considering whether they were constitutional, thus making the hard decisions easy. She took a shot at California Governor Gavin Newsom by rhetorically asking whether Newsom has ever wondered whether a decision was constitutional before making one. Noem extolled her state’s accomplishments in the areas of low unemployment and low taxes, noting how conservative messaging needs to focus not on rhetoric but simple exposure to how conservative principles work in real life.

    Noem briefly mentioned her book. She commented not on the controversial aspects but on elements such as her direct interaction with people struggling to pay basic food bills.

    The governor indirectly referenced her recent rough ride by talking about how she always wears something with pearls, not out of vanity but rather because of their formation method. From this, she went into an area that caused at least some discomfort to parts of the assembled audience, by stating we need to pray for our leaders regardless of who they are. Noem illustrated this point by mentioning how during her time in Congress, during one of Barack Obama’s State of The Union speeches, she was pacing back and forth in the back of the House chamber praying that God would do something to prevent Obama from continuing to lie when she felt a powerful conviction that this was the exact opposite of how she should be praying for him, or for that matter praying period. She added how much joy she takes in being a grandmother, using this as a none-too-subtle slam against the mainstream media’s efforts to dehumanize those with whom they disagree.

    Noem urged those in attendance to step away from being offended, encouraging them to “just get over yourselves.” She added that the audience needed to reopen conversations with people who see things differently, illustrating her point with the axiom, “Talk moderately so you can govern conservatively. Start by listening.”

    Noem praised Donald Trump for not pretending to be someone or something he is not. She used an anecdote about how she was shocked when Trump started his 2016 campaign announcement by descending on a golden escalator. Noem compared this to how most politicians attempt to strike a pose as one of the working people. She went on to detail how Trump’s connection with the people is demonstrated by how those who do work or have worked for him are universal in their praise for his genuine interest in their well-being. She commented, “The one thing we need is elected officials who don’t believe they’re better than everyone else.”

    The governor urged the attendees to become directly involved in the upcoming election by doing whatever work is required — knocking on doors, hosting get-togethers with neighbors, and so on. She finished with an illustration of how the bison — for which South Dakota is known — when a storm comes, instead of turning tail toward it, faces it and walks directly into the storm so they can get through it faster.

    Noem received another warm standing ovation once her speech was complete. What her political future holds is unknown, but for at least this afternoon, her words and deeds are deeply appreciated by the GOP faithful.

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