How Trump Reacted To Kristi Noem's Puppy Scandal Is So Telling

Anyone who's been keeping tabs on Kristi Noem over the past couple of years would know that she has been pulling all the stops to climb the political ladder. Once rumored to be eyeing the presidency, South Dakota's female governor has instead pivoted to vying for the vice presidential spot alongside Donald Trump in 2024. However, her admission in her book that she had killed a puppy could throw a wrench in her ambitions. And Trump's reaction to all this? It appears as though he doesn't mind Noem's shady side.

In case you missed it, Noem faced backlash after the release of her book, "No Going Back," in which she confessed to killing a 14-month-old dog because of behavioral issues and an unwillingness to be trained. She claimed that the dog was "dangerous to anyone she came in contact with," leading her to pull the trigger. Noem shared the anecdote to prove she had what it takes to make tough choices, even if deemed "difficult, messy, and ugly." She also defended her decision on X, formerly Twitter, saying that it was legal in South Dakota to kill dogs if they were inflicting harm on others. "I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor," she wrote.

Despite her justifications, the incident landed her in hot water, with some of Trump's own allies noting that she's significantly damaged her VP prospects. Meanwhile, Trump himself appears unfazed by the controversy, perhaps indicating that Noem's tough love tendencies might not be a deal-breaker after all.

Trump appears to find Noem's confession excusable

Donald Trump played it coy initially when asked whether Kristi Noem was still a viable contender for his VP pick post-puppy scandal. While many were quick to cancel Noem, Trump remained tightlipped, neither condemning nor outright supporting her. "She had a rough couple of days, I will say that," he told Spectrum News 1 before slipping in some praise, which says a lot about their relationship. "[She's] somebody that has been supportive of me from the beginning," he remarked, noting that he "likes her a lot." But when pressed if she's still part of his veep shortlist, he simply said, "I don't want to comment on anybody on the list."

The presidential hopeful changed his tune just days later, sharing on "The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show" podcast that the public might have misconstrued Noem's actions. "I think [Noem's] terrific. A couple of rough stories, there's no question about it," he said. "And when explained — the dog story, people hear that, and people from different parts of the country probably feel a bit differently, but that's a tough story."

Trump even hinted that Noem might have been blindsided by her own memoir, suggesting that the scandal may be chalked up to poor oversight on her part. "She was doing incredibly well. And she got hit hard, and sometimes you do books, and you have some guy writing a book, and you maybe don't read it as carefully, you know," he said. "You have ghostwriters, too. They help you, and they, in this case, didn't help too much."

Does Noem still have a chance of becoming Trump's VP pick?

While Donald Trump has publicly supported Kristi Noem, he's apparently doing the exact opposite of that behind the scenes. One source close to the real estate mogul told Rolling Stone that he was appalled by the whole ordeal and was repulsed by Noem's actions. He also reportedly kept bringing up the topic in meetings and phone calls, asking questions like, "Why would she do that?" and "What is wrong with her?"

Despite his outward kindness, people close to his circle said that he had likely already dropped her from his shortlist — that is if she had even been part of it at all. "To a person, everyone agrees she killed her chances, pun intended," Sean Spicer, Trump's first White House press secretary, shared with ABC News. "It's like a job applicant saying unprompted they stole office furniture during an interview."

Noem, for her part, appears to still be in high spirits and couldn't quite understand why she's facing so much ridicule. Speaking at a Trump donor retreat, she told the crowd, "Listen, going through hard things, and I've been through a few of them — I'm going through one right now, I mean they're just attacking me like crazy right now," according to Politico. Seemingly unfazed by it all, she says she's using the backlash as motivation to soldier on. "It's a good thing because it makes you stronger, and it teaches you really what you're up against."