sideshow act

Kristi Noem cozies up with homophobes in Paris while campaigning to be Trump’s running mate

South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, waves from the stage during the South Dakota Republican Party's Monumental Leaders rally at the Ice Arena at the Monument in Rapid City, South Dakota, September 8, 2023

Kristi Noem recently brought her sideshow act campaign to be Donald Trump‘s 2024 running mate overseas.

South Dakota’s gay-hating governor just got back from attending the “World Freedom Initiative: Stand, Speak and Act of Your Freedom” conference held in Paris, France last weekend.

Despite claiming to be for people “across the political spectrum”, pretty much all of the keynote speakers fell into the extreme right and deeply anti-LGBTQ+ categories.

The lineup included folx like gay-hating, cow-suing Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes, pro-conversion therapy Brexit bonehead Nigel Farage, Romanian talk show host/politician and accused sexual predator Dorin Iacob, and Noem’s own rumored boyfriend and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Noem, who was billed as “On Trump’s Vice President Short List”, gave a 30-minute speech on the closing day of the conference, during which she crowed about how wonderful Trump is and touted her accomplishments as governor, focusing heavily on her response to COVID.

“When President Trump was in the White House, I was on offense,” she said. “I could be creative. I could figure out how to cut regulations that made us more efficient, how to give people more opportunities.”

Noem claimed she was the only governor in the entire country to consult the constitution before making any decisions on how to handle the pandemic, resulting in South Dakota being the one only state to not mandate closings.

“I stood up in front of my people and told them that we were going to embrace personal responsibility,” Noem boasted. “I didn’t even define what an essential business was because I don’t believe that governors have the authority to tell you that your business isn’t essential.”

As a result, South Dakota had the third highest COVID morbidity rate in the country in 2020, according to the CDC, despite being the fifth least populated state.

Later in her speech, Noem said, “What I believe happened in our state is that we just did what conservatives have always said they believed, but we did it and we proved that it works, that it really is better for families, it really is better for businesses, that it is better for those who want to be happier.”

“See, because our people were free, they were happier, they were able to make personal responsibility choices for themselves and their families.”

Except that’s not true.

Since taking office in 2019, Noem has used her position to chip away at the rights of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to her own personal far right Christian ideologies, primarily focusing her attacks on LGBTQ+ people and trans youth.

From banning drag shows to opening a “whistleblower hotline” that encourages the public to report anything “woke” happening at state colleges and universities, to outlawing gender-affirming care for trans minors and forcing those already receiving care to detransition, Noem has made it her mission as governor to ensure LGBTQ+ people have less freedoms, not more.

When a reporter confronted her at a press conference last year with the statistic that nearly 90% of LGBTQ+ people in South Dakota experience depression, the highest rate in the country, she blew the whole thing off.

“Why do you think that is?” the reporter asked. To which Noem replied disinterestedly, “I don’t know. That makes me sad and we should figure it out,” before moving on to the next question.

A major theme of Noem’s Paris speech was about how South Dakota has become a “beacon of light” to other states. She also urged leaders at the conference to use what she’s done as inspiration for how they, too, can impose their conservative ideologies onto their citizens.

“In South Dakota, because we made very different decisions than any other state did, it’s lighting the way for how to be economically successful, how to embrace liberty and freedom,” she said. “But we don’t do that and then turn and not talk about it. We have to continue to carry that testimony forward so that, like the Statue of Liberty, we’re holding it high as an example.”

“We have to continue to live this beacon of light.”

Noem has made it clear several times now that she really, really, really wants to be Trump’s VP pick in 2024, but an Emerson College poll conducted in South Dakota last month found the majority of her own constituents think she’d be terrible at the job.

Just 25% of respondents said Trump should pick her to be his #2. Meanwhile, 38% said he should go with someone else. And 20% said it depends on who else he might be considering.

Among just Republican voters, the numbers weren’t much better. Only 34% said Noem should be Trump’s running mate, while 32% said they think it should be someone else, and 18% say it depends on who else is being considered. 

Noem might think she’s a “beacon of light,” but few others seem to.

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