Is Kristi Noem helping President Trump add his image to Mount Rushmore?


Mount Rushmore has been the topic of news stories this year, ranging from the controversial (for anti-Trumpers) fireworks display to celebrate the 4th of July with President Trump to the possibility that the angry mob of woke rioters wants to remove the monument altogether. Some Trump deranged Democrats even called the Mount Rushmore celebration a “White Supremacy” event.

The latest story is that President Trump wants to find a way to put his own image on Mount Rushmore. Trump is pooh-poohing the story but there may be at least a little something to it, according to a report in 2018. Kristi Noem was elected Governor of South Dakota that year. She began lobbying President Trump to come to South Dakota, preferably to celebrate the 4th of July with a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. Fireworks shows were canceled in 2010 by the Obama administration for environmental and fire risks and Noem was ready for that to change.

During their first meeting in the Oval Office, Noem says that Trump approached the subject of his image on Mount Rushmore when she asked him to visit South Dakota. She mentioned Mount Rushmore at the time, apparently to entice him to come.

“He said, ‘Kristi, come on over here. Shake my hand,’” Noem said. “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?’ ”

Noem thought he was joking.

“I started laughing,” she said. “He wasn’t laughing, so he was totally serious.”

This wasn’t the first time Trump brought up the idea. In July 2017 he spoke about his dream during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.

“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,’” he said.

“So I won’t say it, OK? I won’t say it.”

A year before Trump became president, an editorial cartoonist for the Tulsa World published a caricature of Trump, taking a dig at his ego and vanity.

As the story in the South Dakota newspaper points out, there isn’t room to add another president to Mount Rushmore. Also, Trump isn’t the first addition to be suggested to the monument. It is being reported that Trump’s staff reached out and asked about what the process would be to add an image to the monument. It shouldn’t be a surprise that presidents have egos. Just running for president shows a large ego, right? Trump is just more out in the open about his ego. He puts his name of the buildings he builds and owns, so why would assuming he entertains a dream of a spot on Mount Rushmore be a stretch?

Maureen McGee-Ballinger, public information officer at Mount Rushmore, said workers are asked daily whether any president can be added. And for years, people have suggested Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, among others. A website – MakeRoomonRushmore.com – advocates for Obama.

“There is no more carvable space up on the sculpture,” McGee-Ballinger said. “When you are looking on the sculpture, it appears there might be some space on the left next to Washington or right next to Lincoln. You are either looking at the rock that is beyond the sculpture (on the right), which is an optical illusion, or on the left, that is not carvable.”

Ms. McGee-Ballinger went on to say Mount Rushmore “a work of art. You wouldn’t change an artist’s vision.” Gov. Noem jokes that she told the president that he could “Come pick out a mountain.” That’s a thought.

When Trump went to South Dakota, Noem presented him with a four-foot-tall replica of Mount Rushmore that did include his likeness. At the time, rumors were swirling that she was angling for replacing Mike Pence on the ticket. The transition team had offered Noem a spot in the president’s cabinet but she turned that offer down to pursue her run for governor. Her political star has been rising, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and she is now looked at as a future presidential candidate, along with other rising Republicans. Less than three weeks after the 4th of July celebration, Noem flew to D.C. to meet with Pence. It is reported that she smoothed things over and assured him that she wasn’t trying to take his job.

Is Noem just looking to keep raising her profile and stay in the good graces of the Trump administration? Or is she pursuing something more? That’s the question. She certainly poured on the praise as she introduced Trump at the holiday celebration.

Introducing Mr. Trump against the floodlit backdrop of his carved predecessors, the governor played to the president’s craving for adulation by noting that in just three days more than 125,000 people had signed up for only 7,500 seats; she likened him to Theodore Roosevelt, a leader who “braves the dangers of the arena”; and she mimicked the president’s rhetoric by scorning protesters who she said were seeking to discredit the country’s founders.

I don’t think Pence has anything to worry about. His job is secure as Trump’s 2020 running mate. No one has been more loyal to the president than Mike Pence. Noem will have to wait until 2024 to go for a higher office. The field is already warming up so she must know she needs to keep her presence known.

President Trump denies the story and labels it all as fake news. In his own way, you’ll notice he says it’s a good idea.





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