How many politicians running for president can ride a horse? Few.
How many can ride a Harley or an Indian motorcycle? Fewer.
How many do both? None.
Except for Kristi Noem. She does both, which is not something to sneeze at.
She is a rancher and businesswoman frequently seen on horseback and riding a motorcycle, most notably on a 50-mile Legends Ride for Charity at South Dakota’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the height of the COVID shutdown in 2021.
South Dakota, like Florida, remained open during the COVID pandemic.
Not that the 51-year-old conservative Republican governor of South Dakota is running for president or vice president.
But she is available for the second spot if Donald Trump comes knocking. And he just might.
She is articulate, energetic, and attractive, and she says all the things that Trump and his conservative base like to hear.
Her stock with Trump rose dramatically last Friday when Noem endorsed him for president at a sold-out GOP fundraiser in Rapid City, S.D.
No, she did not do it on horseback or from the seat of a motorcycle.
She did it from the stage at the pro-Trump rally. She told Trump and the roaring crowd of Trump supporters, “You made America great again once, and you will do it again.”
Trump responded: “I get endorsements, some good, some bad. Some don’t mean anything. Hers mean a lot.”
Especially as it came following his latest round of Democrat-produced indictments. Democrats want Trump in the Big House, not the White House.
Trump, despite his legal woes, is still so far ahead in the polls that he appears to have the Republican nomination sewed up.
However, he has given no sign of choosing a running mate, even though he could select one of the half dozen or so Republicans running against him, excluding those who have turned against him, like Chris Christie and Mike Pence.
This exclusion would also include Nikki Haley, once Trump’s ambassador to the UN. Trump may want a woman on the ticket, but it is highly unlikely it will be Haley, not when he’s got someone like Noem around.
While Trump is right when he says that voters vote for a president, not a vice president, this time it might be different.
That is because he and his running mate would be running against President Joe Biden, a feeble 80-year-old, and Vice President Kamala Harris, 58, who, like Biden, has trouble putting a cohesive sentence together, let alone two.
Also, it is a race to the bottom over who is less popular in the public opinion polls, Biden or Harris.
At the same time, Trump is 77 years old, so it is conceivable that, whoever of the two senior citizens is elected president, they could not finish their term and their running mate could become president.
Granted at this point that Noem is relatively unknown and comes from a state that is small in population, with fewer than one million people. It has only three electoral votes.
Yet South Dakota is booming economically, largely due to Noem keeping the state open for business during the pandemic.
And just recently she launched a $5 million taxpayer-funded national television ad campaign to lure more workers to come to South Dakota where taxes are low and expectations high, along with a fine quality of life in the prairie state.
Her creative and catchy ads show her dressed as a plumber, an electrician or a welder talking about how good jobs at good wages await workers who want to move to the state.
She has put her state and herself on the map.
As Bill Napoli, a former lawmaker from Rapid City, observed to Politico: “You’ve got to remember something: South Dakota has been 50th in everything for as long as everyone can remember. We were just a nice, quiet docile state that never did anything. She thrust us into the national limelight.”
Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.