Mitchell Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS — President Donald Trump made his first appearance in South Dakota as president Friday, appearing in Sioux Falls to support U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem in her bid to be governor.
Speaking at a closed-door private campaign event at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, Trump credited Noem for being tough in Congress and said she was a great candidate for governor.
“She has done a fantastic job and you’re going to have a great governor,” he said.
Trump also took chances to discredit Noem’s opponent, State Sen. Billie Sutton, of Burke, for his stance on taxes. He noted Noem’s support for his tax cut bill and said Sutton wanted to increase the state’s sales tax by $128 million.
“That’s not good. … These tax hikers, that’s not a positive,” Trump said.
Trump hosted a roundtable event with supporters, prior to delivering remarks at a reception for the Noem-Rhoden Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Kristi Noem for Governor, Larry Rhoden for Lieutenant Governor, KRISTI PAC and the South Dakota Republican Party.
In his first South Dakota visit, Trump thanked South Dakota for its support in the 2016 election, a state he carried with more than 61 percent of the vote. He reiterated his support for a wall on the Mexican border, saying the U.S. has some of the worst immigration laws in the world. He also spoke heavily about the success of the economy and alleged the media as being “fake news” for its lack of coverage of his successes.
Trump arrived in Sioux Falls on Air Force One shortly after 3 p.m. There, he was greeted by South Dakota’s top politicians, including U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Republican candidate for Congress and Mitchell resident Dusty Johnson. At the convention center, Trump introduced Johnson briefly as “your next congressman.”
The president arrived at the Sioux Falls Convention Center complex shortly after 3:30 p.m., with supporters and some protesters lining the short route from the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. Trump left the city at 5:45 p.m. Friday.
Under fire this week after an anonymous New York Times op-ed piece from a Trump administration member and excerpts from the upcoming book from Bob Woodward, Trump asked Thune and Rounds to draft new laws for libel.
“Hey Mike and John, could you do me a favor?” Trump said. “Create some libel laws that when people say stuff bad about you, you could sue them.”
Tickets for the event started at $500, with a $5,000 donation including a photo option with Trump. With an estimated crowd of 500 to 600 people, Noem’s campaign was set to generate at least $250,000 from the event.
In all, Trump spoke for nearly 40 minutes, after being scheduled for about 30 minutes worth of remarks.
“I’m not doing this for every governor,” he said, noting that he’s busy trying to help send more Republicans to Congress. “I fully support Kristi.”
Trump did almost the exact same circuit in Fargo, North Dakota earlier in the day, meeting with supporters in a private setting before delivering remarks at an event for U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who is in a fierce battle with U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., for a Senate seat.
While speaking to reporters on Air Force One earlier in the day, Trump bemoaned that the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election is still ongoing.
“We have to get it over with. It’s really bad for the country. It’s really unfair for our midterms. Really, really unfair for the midterms,” Trump told reporters. “This thing should have been over with a long time ago.”
South Dakota is Trump’s 35th state he’s visited while in office. He’s the 16th president to visit South Dakota while in the role.