Gov. Kristi Noem wields flame thrower in latest Instagram pic; what’s not to love?

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has raised eyebrows again, this time after posting a picture to her Instagram account in which she is holding a flame thrower.

Along with the photo, the feisty GOP governor wrote: “Is it too late to add something to my Christmas list?”

Noem’s post drew a cleverly worded response from one user that suggested a more prominent political future for Noem.

“Noem 2024. She’ll torch the competition,” the user wrote.

There is already some buzz in political circles that Noem may make a bid for the presidency in 2024. When asked recently if she was planning a run during Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit last weekend, her response was cagey.

“I’m not going to answer that question,” she said, laughing.

That said, the governor inspired President Donald Trump-supporting conservatives — while rankling many Democrats and left-leaning media talking heads — during the COVID-19 pandemic for steadfastly refusing to lock down her state and shutter businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governors in six other states — Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming — also never ordered residents to stay at home, though they did mandate varying degrees of business closures and restrictions for a short while.

In the spring, Noem pushed back on nationwide calls for locking her state down, providing only guidance and recommendations that allowed residents “to exercise their right to work, to worship and to play. Or to even stay at home.”

An executive order Noem signed March 23 advised businesses to “implement recommended CDC hygiene practices and other business strategies designed to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease. The order also asked businesses to “encourage staff to telework if possible, implement social distancing measures, limit unnecessary work gatherings, limit non-essential travel, and consider regular health checks including CDC guidance for COVID-19 screening if possible.”

“There are many states that do have mask mandates in place and some that do not, but I look at their rate of spread and the fact is, is that cases are increasing in many of those states as well,” Noem said last month in response to whether she was considering ordering masks to be worn in public.

In terms of her political aspirations, Noem seems to be taking up President Trump’s right flank. Last month just days after the Nov. 3 election, Noem was quick to blast Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) who rushed to congratulate alleged Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“DC Elites are eager to return to ‘business as usual.’ The 70 million Americans who voted for [Trump] are not moving on just because the media says so,” Noem said in response to Romney’s congratulatory tweet. “Serious election integrity concerns (read Alito’s opinion) in several states that the media should be investigating.”

A few days earlier, she ripped states who changed their election laws in the weeks ahead of Election Day, which critics, including the Trump campaign, say was done to help Biden.

“Every Democrat-run state needs to clean up their election laws like Florida did. A fair process isn’t partisan. [President Trump] has been fighting the establishment, the mainstream media, and now rigged election systems on behalf of the American people and our way of life,” she wrote.

The following week, she dragged former President Barack Obama over an excerpt in his new book in which he said he is “not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America.”

“What a ridiculous message. Obama had 8 years, including 2 with full control of Congress. He sent our jobs to China, left our healthcare system in disarray, our foreign policy in shambles & our people divided,” Noem wrote on Twitter. “Instead of blaming Trump, Obama should consider what led to 2016.”

Jon Dougherty

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