Nov 2, 2022
Attacks on the Democratic Party, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith and local media were met with cheers and applause Wednesday during a campaign rally for Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in Rapid City.
Noem and former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard spoke about the governor's leadership style and what it is like to be a woman in politics in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Holiday Inn Rapid City Downtown Convention Center.
Members of the state Legislature, including Rep. Mary Fitzgerald, R-Spearfish, and Meade County Sheriff-elect Pat West attended the rally. State Sen. Helene Duhamel, R-Rapid City, served as emcee. Even Noem campaign volunteer Corey Lewandowski looked on from the crowd.
Noem, who was introduced by Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, said people in South Dakota and across the nation have learned that leadership has consequences.
"It matters who sits in leadership positions, they impact our lives every single day," she said.
Noem said the governor of every state is the defense against the federal government, and people have to look no further than the families and businesses in each state. She said she is running against an opponent that embraces every policy President Joe Biden stands for and fights for every day.
"I tell people every day my job has turned into getting up every day and fighting the federal government, defending the people of the state and making sure that we continue to be free and make our decisions," she said.
Gabbard, who was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 2012 and was a 2020 presidential candidate, said the country is in a downward spiral with the direction the Biden administration and Democrats in Washington, D.C., have taken. Gabbard announced she was leaving the Democratic Party in October, but said Wednesday that she has not joined the Republican Party.
She said the Democratic Party now is led by people who hate freedom. Gabbard said the party has thrown the Constitution in the trash and seeks to undermine the document.
"What's so dangerous about these positions is that they're doing so and carrying out these policies using the force of law and law enforcement behind them," Gabbard said. "We see this through the politicization and weaponization of public institutions designed to serve us like the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, like the Department of Education, Health and Human Services."
Noem said members of the Democratic Party have openly embraced socialism and socialist policies.
She said she does think her message is resonating with Democrats and Independents, particularly with the growth the state is experiencing in population and wages.
Gabbard said servant leaders are the greatest leaders, which are leaders who see themselves as servants. She said she considers Noem to be a servant leader. Noem said there are talkers and there are doers.
She said there are a lot of talkers, and Gabbard is a doer. Noem said Smith has not passed a bill in years.
"He's served in the Legislature for years, hasn't passed a single bill," she said.
Smith started his time in the state Legislature in 2017. According to the state Legislature, he was listed as the House prime sponsor of five bills in 2018, two of which were signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in March 2018. they include House Bill 1293, which increased the penalty for certain assaults committed against firefighters, ambulance service, or health care facility personnel while engaged in the performance of their duties; and Senate Bill 83, which authorized certain patriotic societies access to public schools.
Smith is listed as the House prime sponsor for seven bills in 2019, two of which were signed by Noem. They include Senate Bill 1, which adds a legislator to the membership of the Extraordinary Cost Oversight Board, to establish the board in statute, and to repeal the administrative rules creating the board; and Senate Bill 113, which provided that certain information contained within applications for money lending licenses be public record.
In 2020, Smith was listed as the House prime sponsor of six bills, two of which were signed by Noem. They include House Bill 1295, which revised provisions regarding contagious disease control and enforcement and to declare an emergency; and House Bill 1298, which provides for the postponement of certain elections and to declare an emergency.
She said she didn't vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Gabbard said people told her, "How dare you not vote for this person, she's going to be the first woman president of the country."
"How dare you reduce me to my sex," Gabbard said.
In response to a question on if there can be a bipartisan effort to lower the political temperature and discourse in the country, Gabbard said there has to truly be a bipartisan desire.
She said the direction the country is headed in is not sustainable, and there are powers in Washington, both in politics and media, that intentionally try to "stoke the fires of divisiveness between us because the more we are focused on being angry at each other, the less we're paying attention to what they are doing in spending our tax dollars."
Gabbard said it's up to the leaders to set the example and to show how they relate to others.
Noem said people don't feel like they're being listened to now, and people are so busy talking they're not listening. She said the media doesn't help.
Noem claimed three South Dakota reporters have told her they didn't run stories about her because they were too positive and that media organizations in South Dakota have manipulated articles.
"We have to realize that we have to continue to be bold and truthful and use every opportunity we have to make sure that the public are informed because most of the time, even in a small state like South Dakota, you're not going to get it picking up the Rapid City Journal," Noem said. "You're just not. You're gonna have to go out there."
The governor's statement about the Journal was met with applause. Noem did not provide examples about when the Journal was not truthful or allegedly manipulated articles.