by Frank Holmes, reporter
It’s no secret that former President Doandl Trump plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
It’s also no secret he hates disloyalty and wants to be the Republican party kingmaker.
But it looks like Donald Trump has got a full-blown rival in 2024… and it’s right on your computer screen.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has placed digital ads in strategically targeted primary or swing states any Republican will need to win the nomination, much less the White House, in two years.
Noem has purchased ads in nine states touting her biography and repeating her well-known phrase that she was raised with “grit” and “grace.”
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She’s also running an ad bragging about the massive number of people moving to her state: 70,000 people moved to South Dakota between 2010 and 2020.
“Here, freedom runs free. So saddle up, we’re just getting started,” she tells her audience…but astute political observers say she’s interested in promoting more than her state’s business climate.
The ad, titled “Saddle Up,” recounts how she almost lost her ranch after her father died—a story that’s already well-known among the party’s grassroots but not by the general electorate…and definitely not in the localities where she’s airing them.
She’s buying air time in early primary states, where she might have a face-to-face showdown with President Trump.
Her ads have found an audience in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina—the first three major contests of the presidential nominating process—according to Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp).
Noem isn’t just investing in primary states—she’s going in big. “Noem was the ninth-biggest spender on Meta ads in New Hampshire and South Carolina during the July 5-11 period, and the tenth-biggest spender in Iowa during the same period,” reported Fox News.
Other ads targeted voters in major swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, which put Trump over the top in 2016.
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They also hit hard in the home of two of her rivals: Ron DeSantis’ Florida and Greg Abbott’s Texas—and one of her aides is already trash-talking the other possible 2024 contenders.
“Some talk conservative while others govern that way, and that’s why South Dakota has the best economy in the nation and one of the fastest population growths,” said “a source close to Noem.”
She may also be planning a visit to New Hampshire, her confidant told the media.
The digital ads may be prepping the way for a full-blown contest for the presidential nomination against Trump, DeSantis, Abbott, and possibly a handful of other candidates.
But first, Noem may be looking for a reset after alienating a huge number of conservative voters when she refused to sign a bill banning biological men from competing in women’s sports last March. Reports say online retail giant Amazon pressured the governor to back down, hinting it would pull a distribution center from Sioux Falls.
“Only people with the courage to rebel will save this nation,” said TV host Jesse Kelly at the time.
“There is nothing that turns Republican voters off more than politicians bending the knee to woke interests in a feeble attempt to garner favor,” said a writer at RedState.com.
The ads might be her attempt to put a new image in front of the GOP primary base.
Noem had a bright political future before the transgender bill derailed her with much of the country.
As The Horn has reported, Trump insiders say Noem had the inside track to become his vice presidential running mate in 2024, after the former president had a messing falling out with Mike Pence (who is also testing the presidential waters).
But Noem seemed to shoot those ideas down earlier this month in a contentious interview with CNN’s Dana Bash. “I don’t operate in that hypothetical,” Noem told the liberal network. “I would be shocked if he asked. And right now, I’m just so focused on South Dakota. We’re doing great things.”
“And we’ve got a lot more to do the next four years,” Noem added.
If the 45th president doesn’t run for reelection, the nomination battle will be wide open. And a poll from last month showed DeSantis leading Trump with a narrow group of voters.
But the same poll showed Noem at one percent, practically an asterisk.
And two more recent polls hold much better news for Trump…but not for Noem. A poll in New Hampshire from Neighborhood Research/Media NH showed Trump crushing the Republican field with 41 percent. Noem doubled her support—to 1.9 percent.
Neighborhood Research/Media NH survey N=475 7/5-8, 11-13 Trump 41.1, DeSantis 22.1, Pence 1.3, Paul 0.8, Haley 0.6, Sununu 0.6, Pompeo 0.6, Undec. 30.1. Live Callers, Open-Ended Prez Choice.
Top 3: DJT 50.6, DeSantis 42.4, Pence 2.5, Haley 2.5, Noem 1.9, Abbott 1.6, Sununu 1.2
— Rick Shaftan — FB Political Prisoner (@Shaftan) July 13, 2022
In another survey, Texas voters backed Trump by 45 percent; that poll didn’t even include Noem. Neither does the RealClearPolitics average, which shows Trump with an outright majority of supporters.
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The Texas poll found, if Trump decides not to run, DeSantis becomes the overwhelming party favorite for 2024.
But right now, Trump sounds like a man who’s all-in for a rematch with Joe Biden. In a recent interview, he just said he didn’t know whether to announce his reelection campaign “before or after” the 2022 midterms.
Frank Holmes is a veteran journalist and an outspoken conservative that talks about the news that was in his weekly article, “On The Holmes Front.”