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Noem Does a Furious Tap Dance

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) was on CNN's State of the Union this weekend, as part of her ongoing quest to get the heck out of South Dakota. And, given the salience of the issue, not to mention her home state's particularly draconian law, Noem was naturally asked about abortion access. She had to know that was coming, and yet, she basically wouldn't touch Dana Bash's questions with a ten-foot pole.

The South Dakota law is identical to the new Arizona law; it bans all abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger. Noem's position on that law is... um... well... something? On one hand, she said that abortion policy should be left up to the states. Since South Dakota effectively decided to outlaw the procedure, she should therefore be on board with that, right? Not so fast; she also made clear that she had nothing to do with the law, which was adopted "decades before I became governor." So, does that mean she wants to adjust the law to create, say, exceptions in cases of rape and/or incest? It would seem not. "I just don't believe a tragedy should perpetuate another tragedy," she said. So she does support the current law, then? Nope, she wouldn't commit to that, only that she will "make sure the will of the people is enforced."

This is our second reference to Noem in as many days, which is probably about two more than she warrants. She is only one of the contenders to be on the Trump ticket, a ticket that is more likely to lose than to win. And even if she does make the ticket and the ticket does win, she'll get out of the literal wilderness of the Dakotas, only to take up residence in the political wilderness that is Number One Observatory Circle.

That said, it would appear Noem has noticed something, and that something is interesting. Trump knows that abortion is an Achilles heel for him, and he hasn't come up with a great solution to that problem. It is probable that he is going to use his VP pick, in part, to try to help out on this front. So, if Noem wants the #2 slot, she has figured out she has to get right with Trump on abortion.

But here's the problem for her and the other wannabes: They can't know what position on abortion Trump actually wants in a running mate. That is to say, Noem clearly thinks that he wants a VP who's in lockstep with him, which is why she's suddenly a fan of the "it's a states' rights issue" position, and beyond that... mumble, mumble, mumble. And maybe that IS what he will be looking for. But remember that the last VP he chose was meant to "balance" the ticket by giving Trump a far-right running mate. So, what he might want—and we think this is probably the more likely possibility—is a fire-breathing anti-abortion fanatic. In that case, he can speak to the crowds who prefer moderation and can send the VP to talk to crowds who prefer a total or near-total ban. Of course, if that is what he wants, Noem has just staked out the wrong position. (Z)

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