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Kristi Noem Takes Veiled Shot At Ron DeSantis As Rivalry Heats Up, Accuses FL Gov of “Rewriting History”

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem took a veiled shot at her chief rival for either the 2024 GOP presidential nomination or as Trump’s 2024 VP pick, Ron DeSantis, in her speech at CPAC. “Let’s talk about rewriting history, we’ve got Republican governors across this country pretending they didn’t shut down their states; that they didn’t close their regions; that they didn’t mandate masks.” Noem continued: 

“Now I’m not picking fights with Republican governors. All I’m saying is that we need leaders with grit. That their first instinct is the right instinct. Demand honesty from your leaders and make sure that every one of them is willing to make the tough decisions.

“South Dakota did not do any of those measures. We didn’t mandate. We trusted our people and it told them that personal responsibility was the best answer.”

Noem also addressed some criticism she got after she vetoed a bill that would have banned trans-athletes from participating in public school girls’ sports. She said:

“The women’s sports issue was the one that was the hardest for me, because I’ve been attacked by liberals my whole life, but getting attacked by my friends was tough.

“So us on the right that say, ‘Oh, we’re never wrong-’ no, we’ve got conservative reporters, conservative networks, that definitely do not tell the truth either.

“The bill that I gave my legislature and asked them to sign – because I did not veto a women’s sports bill – I asked them to fix it, and they chose not to. But that wasn’t the message that everybody heard in this country.

“And what I asked the legislature to sign is exactly the model legislation that’s been passing in every other state … No governor ever got a bill put on their desk and handed to them like my legislature first gave me.

“And I gave them a style-informed revision, asked them to change it, and they refused. That’s not what you guys heard on the national news.

Noem told the reporter that the original bill “allowed any student that did not make a sporting team” to sue the team and the public school system. 

“So I asked them to change it. The legislature refused, so I did executive orders,” Noem said.

“But I haven’t seen any of my friends in the conservative media cover the fact that I did executive orders the very next day so I could make sure that only girls were playing girl sports.

“Those protections are in place today in South Dakota. But even my friends didn’t cover that. So that’s the media that drives me crazy whatever gets headlines, that’s what they do.”

“We have to be strategic in how we fight these fights to win. I’ll fight every day of the week, but I fight to win.

“I’m just not going to fight stupid fights that will set us up for failure,” Noem said. “We did this in the pro-life movement for years. We strategically looked at what kind of bills to bring so that we could make progress on protecting life.

“This is the same battle and it’s being smart and not putting forward bills that end up in court that I can’t ever enforce to make sure I’m really, truly protecting it.”

Washington Post reporter Brian Klass previewed one of DeSantis’ possible comebacks: “South Dakota has one of the lowest population densities in the United States. It therefore has huge built-in advantages during a pandemic. Yet, because of Noem’s awful leadership, it had one of the highest per capita death rates of any state–and still, she’s bragging about it.”