South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem isn't ruling out a run for the White House in 2024, that is, unless former president Donald Trump jumps in the race.
"I think he's gonna run. And if President Trump runs, I'll support him," Noem told chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout."
Noem has long backed the former president and is widely considered a potential vice presidential pick, should Trump capture the Republican nomination a third time.
But she takes issue with Trump's brash and often deceitful approach to politics that leans heavily on personal insults of perceived enemies.
"I can't fix that about him. I've said many, many times that is one of the things I don't appreciate about him," Noem said, going on to praise him for his handling of the COVID pandemic.
In her state, Noem refused to implement mask mandates, social distancing or vaccine requirements, setting South Dakota apart from the vast majority of states, but in line with. Two of the nation's most prominent Republican governors, Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, went further and banned private companies from imposing vaccine requirements. Noem said she didn't like vaccine requirements, but would not expand the scope of government by intervening in private business affairs.
"I believe in personal freedom," Noem said, adding that she has no regrets for her handling of the virus. South Dakota ranks in the middle of the pack for COVID deaths per capita.
Noem called COVID vaccines "incredibly unproven" but disclosed that she was vaccinated. At this point, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 72% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The White House COVID response team continues to remind Americans that vaccination is the nation's most important weapon against severe infection and hospitalization and death.
"A lot of the results aren't necessarily locked in and we still have to continue to see the long-lasting effects of what we're developing and what we're recommending," Noem said.
Noem said she has watched "very little" of the Jan. 6 committee hearings. "I don't spend any time watching those hearings."
She said the Capitol attack was a "horrific day" and declined to say whether President Trump bears any responsibility. "I think that there's aspects of that day that all of us should use to examine ourselves. And I know that President Trump has as well."
Noem criticized the structure of the House committee investigating the riot which is comprised of 7 Democrats and two Republicans. As for whether high-profile witnesses like former White House Counsel Pat Ciopollone and former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson are telling the truth, Noem said, "I believe that they would want to be truthful there."
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson