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South Dakota Gov. Noem admits error of describing meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in new book

MAY 6, 2024:

WASHINGTON (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is releasing a new book called “No Going Back,” but on Friday (May 3, 2024) her office said she would actually be going back to correct some errors — including a false claim that she once met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Republican governor’s new book was part of an overt effort to be selected as a running mate for Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but it has already faced bipartisan backlash for a story of how she once shot her hunting dog. Then, after scrutiny of her descriptions of meetings with international leaders, her spokesperson Ian Fury said in a statement that it was an error to include Kim in a list of world leaders who Noem has met — and the publisher would correct any future editions of the book.

Noem’s political prospects were already falling amid widespread disgust for how she recounted killing her 14-month-old wirehaired pointer named Cricket after it had shown aggressive behavior and killed her neighbor’s chickens.

In her soon-to-be-released book, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward,” Noem also describes instances where she has stood up to international leaders — anecdotes that would have bolstered her foreign policy experience — but those were swiftly called into question. She writes about canceling a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

After The Dakota Scout first reported Noem’s descriptions of the meetings, Fury said that the book “has two small errors. This has been communicated to the ghostwriter and editor.”

In addition to the meeting with Kim, Fury said Noem also mistook the dates in which she spoke with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.

“The book has not been released yet, and all future editions will be corrected,” Fury added.

In a section of the book about meeting with international leaders, Noem writes: “Through my tenure on the House Armed Services Committee, I had the chance to travel to many countries to meet with world leaders — some who wanted our help, and some who didn’t.

“I remember when I met with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un,” she writes. “I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I’d been a children’s pastor after all).”

The description of such a meeting was quickly challenged and described as implausible by experts on U.S.-North Korea relations. When Noem was a member of the House Armed Services Committee from 2013 to 2015, relations between the two countries were tense and a congressional delegation meeting with Kim would have generated considerable awareness, said Syd Seiler, a former U.S. intelligence officer who spent decades working on the relationship with North Korea.

“Nothing like this happened,” he said, adding that he was working at the White House and State Department during that time period and was not notified of a congressional meeting with Kim.

Noem did join an international congressional trip, known as a codel, to Japan, South Korea and China in 2014.

In the book, Noem also writes that she was “slated to meet with” Macron in November last year while she was in Paris for a conference of European conservative leaders, but canceled when he made comments that she considered “pro-Hamas.”

However, Macron’s office told The Associated Press that no “direct invitation” had been made for Noem to meet the French president, though it did not rule out that she may have been invited to a Paris event that he was also scheduled to attend.

Fury said, “The governor was invited to sit in President Macron’s box for the Armistice Day Parade at Arc de Triomphe. Following his anti-Israel comments, she chose to cancel.”

Meanwhile, Noem is trying to fend off the backlash for writing about shooting her dog as well as a goat.

“Don’t believe the #fakenews media’s twisted spin,” she posted on the social platform X this week. “I had a choice between the safety of my children and an animal who had a history of attacking people & killing livestock.”

Her spokesperson, Fury, also cast scrutiny of the errors in Noem’s book as biased, saying, “The media will, of course, try and make these tiny issues huge.”

Still, members of Congress have poked fun at Noem, with Reps. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from Florida; Susan Wild, a Democrat from Pennsylvania; and Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina; launching a Congressional Dog Lovers Caucus this week.

Moskowitz said on X that one of the group’s rules was “you cannot kill a puppy.”

 

APRIL 30, 2024:

UNDATED (AP)- Politicians and dog experts are criticizing South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem after she wrote in a new book about killing a rambunctious puppy. The story — and the vilification she received on social media — has some wondering whether she’s still a viable potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Experts who work with hunting dogs like Noem’s said she should have trained — not killed — the pup, or found other options if the dog was out of control.

Noem has tried to reframe the story from two decades ago as an example of her willingness to make tough decisions. She wrote on social media that the 14-month-old wirehaired pointer named Cricket had shown aggressive behavior by biting.

“As I explained in the book, it wasn’t easy,” she said on X. “But often the easy way isn’t the right way.”

Still, Democrats and even some conservatives have been critical.

“This story is not landing. It is not a facet of rural life or ranching to shoot dogs,” conservative commentator Tomi Lahren posted online.

Several posters described Noem as Cruella de Vil, the villain from the Disney classic “101 Dalmatians.” A meme features a series of dogs offering looks of horror.

“I’m not sure which thing she did was stupider: The fact that she murdered the dog, or the fact that she was stupid enough to publish it in a book,” said Joan Payton, of the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America. The club itself described the breed as “high-energy,” and said Noem was too impatient and her use of a shock collar for training was botched.

But South Dakota Democratic Senate Minority Leader Reynold Nesiba considered the disclosure more calculated than stupid. He said the story has circulated for years among lawmakers that Noem killed a dog in a “fit of anger” and that there were witnesses. He speculated that it was coming out now because Noem is being vetted as a candidate for vice president.

“She knew that this was a political vulnerability, and she needed to put it out there, before it came up in some other venue,” he said. “Why else would she write about it?”

In her soon-to-be-released book, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward,” of which The Guardian obtained a pre-release copy, Noem writes that she took Cricket on a bird hunting trip with older dogs in hopes of calming down the wild puppy. Instead, Cricket chased the pheasants, attacked a family’s chickens during a stop on the way home and then “whipped around to bite me,” she wrote.

Noem’s spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press about whether the dog actually bit her or just tried to do so, or whether Noem had to seek medical treatment. The book’s publisher declined to provide AP an advance copy of the book.

Afterward, Noem wrote, she led Cricket to a gravel pit and killed her. She said she also shot a goat that the family owned, saying it was mean and liked to chase her kids.

The response to the story was swift: “Post a picture with your dog that doesn’t involve shooting them and throwing them in a gravel pit. I’ll start,” Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz posted on X. The post included a photo of him feeding ice cream off a spoon to his Labrador mix named Scout.

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign added a photo of the president strolling on the White House lawn with one of his three German Shepherds. Two of Biden’s dogs, Major and Commander, were removed following aggressive behavior, including toward White House and Secret Service personnel. The oldest, Champ, died.

Democrat Hillary Clinton reposted a 2021 comment in which she warned, “Don’t vote for anyone you wouldn’t trust with your dog.” She added Monday, “Still true.”

Conservative political commentator Michael Knowles said on his titular podcast that while Noem could have handled the situation differently, “there is nothing wrong with a human being humanely killing an animal.” He later added: “Fifty years ago, this political story would not have made anyone in most of America bat an eyelash. And the fact that it does today tells you something, not about the changing morality of putting down a farm animal, but about the changing politics of America.”

He later said that the story is “extremely stupid and insignificant” because Noem doesn’t have a chance of being selected as Trump’s running mate.

Payton, who is a delegate to the American Kennel Club and lives in Bakersfield, California, said the situation was a mess from beginning to end.

“That was a puppy that had no experience, obviously no training,” she said. “If you know a minuscule amount about a bird dog, you don’t take a 14 month old out with trained adult dogs and expect them to perform. That’s not how it works.”

The club itself said puppies learn best by hunting one-to-one with their owners, not with other dogs.

When problems arose she should have called the breeder, Payton said, or contacted rescue organizations that find new homes for the breed.

Among those groups is the National German Wirehaired Pointer Rescue, which called on Noem in a Facebook post to take accountability for her “horrific decision” and to educate the public that there are more humane solutions.

“Sporting breeds are bred with bird/hunting instincts but it takes training and effort to have a working field dog,” the group’s Board of Directors wrote in the post.

Payton described Cricket as nothing more than “a baby,” saying the breed isn’t physically mature until it is 2 years old and not fully trained it’s 3- to 5-years old.

“This was a person that I had thought was a pretty good lady up until now,” she said. “She was somebody that I would have voted for. But I think she may have shot herself in the foot.”

 

APRIL 29, 2024:

UNDATED (AP)- South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem — A potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — is getting attention again. This time, it’s for a new book where she writes about killing an unruly dog, and a smelly goat, too.

The Guardian obtained a copy of Noem’s soon-to-be released book, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward.” In it, she tells the story of the ill-fated Cricket, a 14-month-old wirehaired pointer she was training for pheasant hunting.

She writes, according to the Guardian, that the tale was included to show her willingness to do anything “difficult, messy and ugly” if it has to be done. But backlash was swift against the Republican governor, who just a month ago drew attention and criticism for posting an infomercial-like video about cosmetic dental surgery she received out-of-state.

In her book, Noem writes that she took Cricket on a hunting trip with older dogs in hopes of calming down the wild puppy. Instead, Cricket chased the pheasants while “having the time of her life.”

On the way home from the hunting trip, Noem writes that she stopped to talk to a family. Cricket got out of Noem’s truck and attacked and killed some of the family’s chickens, then bit the governor.

Noem apologized profusely, wrote the distraught family a check for the deceased chickens, and helped them dispose of the carcasses, she writes. Cricket “was the picture of joy” as all that unfolded.

“I hated that dog,” Noem writes, deeming her “untrainable.”

“At that moment,” Noem writes, “I realized I had to put her down.” She led Cricket to a gravel pit and killed her.

That wasn’t all. Noem writes that her family also owned a “nasty and mean” male goat that smelled bad and liked to chase her kids. She decided to go ahead and kill the goat, too. She writes that the goat survived the first shot, so she went back to the truck, got another shell, then shot him again, killing him.

Soon thereafter, a school bus dropped off Noem’s children. Her daughter asked, “Hey, where’s Cricket?” Noem writes.

The excerpts drew immediate criticism on social media platforms, where many posted photos of their own pets. President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign surfaced the story on social media alongside a photo of Noem with Trump.

The Lincoln Project, a conservative group that opposes Trump, posted a video that it called a “public service announcement,” showing badly behaved dogs and explaining that “shooting your dog in the face is not an option.”

“You down old dogs, hurt dogs, and sick dogs humanely, not by shooting them and tossing them in a gravel pit,” Rick Wilson of the Lincoln Project wrote on X. “Unsporting and deliberately cruel … but she wrote this to prove the cruelty is the point.”

Noem took to social media to defend herself.

“We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm,” she said on X. “Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years.”

She urged readers to preorder her book if they want “more real, honest, and politically INcorrect stories that’ll have the media gasping.”

Republican strategist Alice Stewart said that while some Republican voters might appreciate the story “as a testament to her grit,” it ultimately creates a distraction for Noem.

“It’s never a good look when people think you’re mistreating animals,” Stewart said. “I have a dog I love like a child and I can’t imagine thinking about doing that, I can’t imagine doing that, and I can’t imagine writing about it in a book and telling all the world.”

It’s not the first time Noem has grabbed national attention.

In 2019, she stood behind the state’s anti-meth campaign even as it became the subject of some mockery for the tagline “Meth. We’re on it.” Noem said the campaign got people talking about the methamphetamine epidemic and helped lead some to treatment.

Last month, Noem posted a nearly five-minute video on X lavishing praise on a team of cosmetic dentists in Texas for giving her a smile she said she can be proud of. “I love my new family at Smile Texas!” she wrote.

South Dakota law bans gifts of over $100 from lobbyists to public officials and their immediate family. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. The state attorney general’s office has declined to answer questions about whether the gift ban applies to people who are not registered lobbyists.