MANCHESTER, N.H. – There are 19 days left until Election Day….and about 1,200 days or so until Primary Day.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem denied that she had any plans to seek the 2024 Republican Presidential Nomination, but her visit on Thursday marked the latest in a long line of national politicians coming to New Hampshire.
Following an early morning trip to the Red Arrow Diner, Noem talked to Republican supporters at the Trump Victory Office on South Willow Street, highlighting an indoor rally that included NH GOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek, NH State Representatives Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack), Al Baldasarro (R-Londonderry), Fred Doucette (R-Kingston) and former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.
In her speech and subsequent dialogue with the volunteers, Noem cast November’s election as a stark contrast using the lens of her own state, stating that South Dakota would have been severely impacted if forced to follow restrictions proposed by Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden.
She also portrayed her state as a symbol of Republican principles in action regarding her response to the COVID-19 pandemic, refusing to issue mandates on masks, recommendations to stay at home, business closure orders or classification of businesses as “essential.” Noem also told the crowd how she turned down the $300 week of additional unemployment benefits for South Dakota residents under the Lost Wages Assistance program, making South Dakota the only state in the country to do so.
In her remarks to the crowd, Noem also voiced concern about the sociological side effects of the pandemic, stating that at one point she “lost track” of up to 30 percent of students during school closures, particularly on Native American Reservations, and was unsure if they were receiving meals each day.
“One thing I’m worried about is people are used to not going to church, people are not sending their kids to school and it’s the poorest kids that are getting hurt the most in South Dakota,” she said. “And people are getting used to not working. That’s not the American story. Our story is being independent and standing up. So it’s important we have all of our governors and the President supporting those policies.”
Although South Dakota has a COVID-19 infection rate approximately seven times higher than New Hampshire as of Friday, Noem said she does not consider infection rates due to a current lack of a vaccine, instead focusing on the ability of hospitals to accommodate those infected.
“What I’ve told my people for months now is that there may be days when I stand up in front of them and we announce thousands of cases, because we know there will get sick and our goal the entire time was to slow down the virus,” she said.
Noem also challenged the efficacy of social distancing at large events earlier this year in South Dakota such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or President Trump’s rally at Mount Rushmore, stating that she encourages anyone to wear a mask, but those who fear getting sick should stay home.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Spokesperson Will Rasky cited comments like those from the event as clear proof of Republican irresponsibility on the pandemic.
“The cold reality is that Donald Trump and his Republican allies have utterly failed to respond to this pandemic. 215,00 Americans have lost their lives, and over 280 Granite State businesses have permanently closed thanks to this chaotic mismanagement,” he said. “A national crisis requires a nationally coordinated response and instead we have politicians like Donald Trump and Kristi Noem who want to pretend the crisis is not happening.”
In regard to the election, she told the crowd to be happy and reach out to those who they may not otherwise talk to out of fear of disagreements over the last few days until Election Day.
Although Trump trails Biden by approximately 10 points in New Hampshire and seven points nationally, she told reporters following the event that she has seen 10-point swings occur within a matter of a week in the past.
Lewandowski also criticized those who believe the polls say that Trump cannot win the election, citing his frenetic schedule.
“He’s doing two or three stops a day, he’s outworking his opponent as he always does, Joe Biden might have an event every other day or every three days and Kamala (Harris) her campaign stops today because a staffer was infected with COVID-19,” said Lewandowski. “Donald Trump was on the road today, he was on the road yesterday, he was on the road the day before and at the end of the day, people want to see someone who is going to work hard for this country and Donald Trump is going to win because of that.”
Lewandowski also dismissed Biden’s record-setting fundraising numbers from September, noting that Trump was outspent 4-to-1 by Hillary Clinton in 2016.