WASHINGTON (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is expected to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential campaign when he travels to her state for a Republican fundraiser on Friday.
Trump will appear in Rapid City for an event hosted by the state’s GOP, and Noem is expected to introduce and endorse Trump, according to a senior Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury said only that the event should be watched for such a development.
The Republican governor has been coy about her endorsement plans, telling Fox News only that “you’ll hear something from me, too.”
When Trump was asked Thursday whether Noem will endorse him, he said, “I don’t know exactly.”
“But I am going,” he said. “I like her a lot. I think she’s great. Kristi’s done a great job.”
He praised her for taking a hands-off approach to pandemic restrictions and at times encouraging people to resume mass gatherings. In July 2020, Noem hosted Trump for a fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore.
Noem was long considered a potential candidate in her own right and had told The New York Times in November 2022 that she didn’t believe Trump offered “the best chance” for the party in 2024. But she removed herself from presidential consideration this summer, saying there was no point in joining the crowded field running for the nomination, given Trump’s dominant position.
Noem, however, has looked for ways to stay in the national conversation. During the first GOP presidential debate, she ran an ad to encourage people to move to South Dakota. In the TV spot, she appeared wearing plumber’s overalls and touted the state as “the freest state in America.”
The state’s senators, John Thune and Mike Rounds, have endorsed one of Trump’s rivals, their colleague South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.