OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Speculation has been rife for months regarding who former President Donald Trump will pick as his 2024 running mate. While nothing official has been announced, Trump has entertained certain names, including a lifelong Democrat.
Trump recently reacted to potentially teaming up with long-shot 2024 Democratic presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr., singing his praises as “a smart guy.”
During a recent call-in segment with Newsmax host Rob Schmitt, the 45th president was asked if he thought Kennedy would impact the race if he ran on a third-party ticket.
“I don’t know, but he’s got great support in the party. He’s got great support in the Democrat Party,” Trump responded. Trump added that he had seen some polling where Kennedy was getting 23 percent. “That’s a lot of votes,” he said.
“A lot of people like you and him as a combination, too,” Schmitt said. “I don’t think that can happen, but have you ever thought about that?” He added: “Trump/Kennedy looks good on a bumper sticker.”
“No, but people have suggested it. I read the same things that you do. There are a lot of people suggesting it, there’s no question about that,” Trump added. “I’ve known him over the years. He’s a smart guy and well-intentioned. I really believe he’s very well-intentioned.”
One report speculated that Trump could choose one of these women: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or Arizona Republican firebrand Kari Lake.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was not convinced following the 2022 midterm elections that Trump would be the best candidate to lead the Republican Party into the 2024 presidential elections, but she appears to have changed her tune.
Noem endorsed Trump during a campaign rally in her state last week, “fueling speculation about the role the Republican governor may play in his third bid for the White House.”
Once considered as a potential 2024 candidate herself, Noem made clear earlier this year she would not be running and would instead focus her attention and energies on her state.
However, in the months since, she appears to be raising her profile nationally ahead of next year’s presidential contest and has even sparked conversations about becoming Trump’s running mate.
Gov. Kristi Noem expected to endorse Trump as VP rumors swirlhttps://t.co/U6BtEZxcVm
— RSBN 🇺🇸 (@RSBNetwork) September 8, 2023
As for whether she would be Trump’s running mate, she told Fox News host Sean Hannity recently: “Of course, I would consider it.”
“When [Noem’s] name comes up in conversation, it’s been positive,” one source close to Trump told CNN. “She’s been loyal to him. She’s eloquent, she defends him but doesn’t steal the spotlight.”
Noem has harbored political aspirations for quite some time, CNN noted. In 2016, she underwent vetting for the position of Trump’s secretary of Agriculture but ultimately decided against pursuing it.
In 2022, while seeking re-election, she strategically ran digital campaign advertisements on Facebook in crucial early-voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, which hold significant sway for presidential candidates.
Having served as a state legislator and represented South Dakota in the U.S. House for four terms, Noem contemplated a bid for the U.S. Senate in 2022, especially when it seemed that GOP Sen. John Thune might not seek another term, as per two knowledgeable Republicans.
Currently, Republican operatives believe that Noem is angling for a path to potentially serving in a Trump administration, whether it be as a vice president or a member of the Cabinet.
“I think she’s angling to keep all her options open. With everything being so fluid on the national stage, she has been very good about pushing her state as an example during COVID and all of these national hot-button issues. She’s kept her state at the forefront,” Republican strategist Matt Langston told the outlet.
“She’s got a bright future. She’s sticking with Trump, which is smart at this stage,” he added.