President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE on Sunday night denied reports the White House had reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemThousands of bikers pour into South Dakota for motorcycle rally Governors’ approval ratings drop as COVID-19 cases mount Noem: South Dakota students ‘will definitely be in the classroom’ this fall MORE (R) about adding his face to Mount Rushmore.
The New York Times reported earlier Sunday that a White House aide had contacted Noem’s office in 2019 to ask about the process for adding new presidents to Mount Rushmore. The report was aggregated by other news outlets, including CNN.
Trump, retweeting CNN’s headline, called the reports “fake news,” though he added that it “sounds like a good idea to me!”
“This is Fake News by the failing @nytimes & bad ratings @CNN. Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!” he tweeted.
This is Fake News by the failing @nytimes & bad ratings @CNN. Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me! https://t.co/EHrA9yUsAw
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
Noem, then a congresswoman, said in 2018 that Trump had told her he aspired to have his image on the monument and clarified to her that he was “totally serious,” according to the Argus Leader.
“He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand,'” Noem said at the time. “I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr. President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’ And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?’ “
The same year, at a Youngstown, Ohio, rally, Trump said, “I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore, but here’s the problem: If I did it joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say ‘he believes he should be on Mount Rushmore,’ so I won’t say it, okay? I won’t say it.”
Noem, remembering the conversation, presented Trump with a four-foot replica of the monument featuring his face when he arrived in the state for a Fourth of July event last month, the Times reported.
Weeks later, Noem met with Vice President Pence at the White House to tell the vice president she would do anything in her power to help the Trump-Pence ticket in November, with the unspoken implication that she was not seeking to replace him on the ticket, according to the Times.
Noem has been seen as a rising star among Republicans, particularly since the July 4 event. A White House official told the Times replacing Pence has not been discussed and added that Mount Rushmore is a federal monument and thus not under Noem’s jurisdiction.
An official close to Pence said his team has also considered that Noem could be useful in helping Pence prepare for his debate with whoever former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Trump executive order is ‘a reckless war on Social Security’ Trump got into testy exchange with top GOP donor Adelson: report Blumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections MORE names as his running mate, according to the Times.
The Hill has reached out to Noem’s office for comment.