South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to follow border visit with weekend in Beaver Creek at Freedom Conference and Festival

Noem to deliver luncheon address at annual Freedom Conference

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, center, is joined by other Republican governors as she speaks during a news conference along the Rio Grande River, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will go from the rough lands of the border to not exactly roughing it at Beaver Creek this week as the Colorado resort hosts a gathering of conservative speakers for the Freedom Conference and Festival.

The annual event is put on by the Steamboat Institute, but it moved from Steamboat in 2020 and now carries on Beaver Creek’s tradition as a conservative gathering ground, dating back to the AEI World Forum, which took place at Beaver Creek from 1982 to 2007.

The Freedom Conference and Festival will begin Friday at Gerald R. Ford Hall, a building that received its name after former Vice President Dick Cheney, a Republican colleague of Ford’s, cut the ribbon on the newly dedicated hall in 2007 during the AEI World Forum.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will deliver the luncheon address from Ford Hall on Saturday. Noem will be appearing fresh off her visit to the Texas-Mexico border on Monday, where she said her state will send more National Guard troops to help enforce border security starting Sept. 1.

Noem, speaking at a press conference from the border on Monday, described the situation there as a war.

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“I was the first state to send National Guard troops down here to participate in partnership with the Texas National Guard. Many other governors had sent some law enforcement, I sent my National Guard because I recognized what we were facing, that this really is a war,” Noem said. “It’s a war for our country, and for our federal laws that have been passed in our Constitution, they are threatening our sovereignty right now, and the cartels are out for blood, and they are facilitating the trafficking of our children each and every day.”

‘Vast majority of drugs in Midwest’

Noem had previously announced that she will deploy at least 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the southern border later this summer, and on Monday confirmed the date of deployment as Sept. 1.

“The cartel is using these children to cross this border to get their drugs, and to sell those children, and taking advantage of them,” Noem said. “What’s interesting is in South Dakota yes we’ve seen incredible increases in our drug proliferation in our state, we’ve seen incredible human trafficking consequences, because of these policies here.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at the U.S. border with Mexico on July 26, 2021. Noem described the U.S. border with Mexico as a “war zone” last year when she sent dozens of state National Guard troops there. Records show the South Dakota troops didn’t seize any drugs.
Stephen Groves/AP Photo

Noem said in addition to the policies on the border, her lack of ability to enforce state law on tribal land has allowed “the vast majority of the drugs in the Midwest” to be trafficked through Native American reservations in South Dakota.

“I have Native American tribes in South Dakota; I have no jurisdiction on their reservations,” Noem said Monday. “Joe Biden is underfunding their tribal law, at the same time, they’re not coming out onto our tribal reservations and enforcing law and helping protect the communities there, and the vast majority of the drugs in the Midwest are coming right through South Dakota on these reservations that I can’t do anything about.”

Trump running mate?

Fox News host Sean Hannity, on Thursday, hosted Noem on his show, telling the governor her name often comes up as a possible running mate for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

“Wherever I go, wherever I have audience shows, people will ask me, I’ll ask them, who do we think would be good vice presidential candidates,” Hannity said to Noem. “And your name comes up every, single, solitary time.”

Noem said if asked, she would consider it.

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“Everybody should consider it,” she said. “Our country is breaking right in front of our very eyes today and everybody should be a part of putting it back on its foundation, and if President Trump is going to be back in the White House, I’d do all I can to help him be successful.”

“Good answer,” Hannity said in response.

‘Reaffirming American exceptionalism’

On Saturday at 12:45 p.m., Noem will speak about how her policies touting “less government, more freedom” helped “lift her state both economically and culturally,” according to the Steamboat Institute.

The speech will follow an update from Rep. Pete Sessions of Waco, Texas, a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on the status of the Hunter Biden investigations, which will take place on Saturday morning.

The Freedom Conference’s keynote speaker is longtime Fox News host Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, who will speak at 7 p.m. on Friday evening. During the reception, guests will enjoy live music performed by Vail-area country music singer Peter Fontanese.

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts will give the opening address on Friday morning. His message will be centered on “reaffirming American exceptionalism,” according to the Steamboat Institute. Many other speakers are scheduled to appear in the two-day event, as well.

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