Kristi Noem Killed Her Dog—and Committed ‘Political Suicide’

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s gruesome recounting of how she killed her dog may have also killed something else: her hopes to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

In Trump’s orbit, Noem’s decision to disclose in her forthcoming memoir that she once shot and killed a family dog is being seen as pure political self-immolation—part of a series of “lapses in judgment” and a sign of “desperation that President Trump especially doesn’t like,” according to a over a half-dozen GOP sources who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity to detail confidential conversations.

“Everyone around Trump is talking about this,” said a MAGA operative.

“Haven’t seen a more public suicide than Jim Jones at Jonestown,” another Trumpworld source told The Daily Beast.

For years, Noem has been seen as a rising star in Republican politics, thanks to her combative, unabashedly MAGA image. She routinely appears in news reports as one of Trump’s top contenders for his vice presidential slot in 2024.

At this point, though, even Republicans may agree that by deeply offending a bipartisan constituency—pet lovers—Noem isn’t just politically incorrect but politically incompetent.

In a startling revelation from her new memoir “No Going Back,” set to be published next month, Noem details the shocking end of her 14-month old wirehair pointer, Cricket.

Noem recounts she killed the dog, who lived on the family’s farm in South Dakota, because of its “aggressive personality” and lack of hunting skills. She also writes that Cricket escaped her truck and attacked a group of chickens, “grabb[ing] one chicken at a time, crunching it to death with one bite, then dropping it to attack another.” This was the final straw.

“I hated that dog,” Noem writes, adding that Cricket was simply “untrainable,” “worthless as a hunting dog,” and “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with.” It was then, she says, she realized “I had to put her down.”

But Noem did the dirty work herself, leading Cricket to a gravel pit and then shooting the dog.

Donald Trump listens as Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at a rally in Ohio in March 2024.


This graphic and shocking excerpt has been poorly received by many, including those in Trumpworld, and it may have sunk whatever hopes she had to be Trump’s running mate.

The Trumpworld source added that Noem had “a very slight shot before” of being Trump’s running mate but that it is “less than zero now.”

“A vice president is chosen to solve problems and add real value. A proven gaffe machine does neither,” a source close to the Trump campaign told The Daily Beast.

Not only that, but a MAGA operative said Noem’s chances at a Cabinet position could also be toast. Her involvement with the Trump campaign at all could be limited going forward, too.

Operatives around Trump “are fixated on the ads that would run if she were anywhere involved with President Trump’s campaign, regarding the dog,” the Trump operative said. “I mean, this stuff is devastating. There’s nothing more popular in politics than dogs, and she killed one—and she continues to talk about it… That’s what’s baffling and shows out of control judgment.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Noem also did not respond to a request for comment.

Indeed, amid all the blowback, Noem has refused to apologize. She wrote in subsequent posts on X that she “understands” why people might be upset but that “tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm.”

The governor also tried to spin the execution as an example of how she doesn’t “shy away from tough challenges.”

“Whether running the ranch or in politics, I have never passed on my responsibilities to anyone else to handle,” Noem said on X. “Even if it’s hard and painful. I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor.”

The widespread and swift backlash to Noem’s bizarre and off-putting story within Trumpland is an exception to the general rule that Trump’s most trusted allies typically are protected when a bad news cycle comes for them after a self-inflicted wound.

Take Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his Trumpian ability to survive serious scandal. Or look at how the likes of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have been able to avoid—at least in the friendly confines of Trumpworld—being forever tied down to episodes they’d like to forget, from the infamous ‘Beetlejuice’ escapades for Boebert to Greene’s remarks about “Jewish space lasers.”

Yet Noem might be in a league of her own.

Matthew Bartlett, a GOP strategist and director of public affairs at the Department of State under Trump, said Noem may have carved out a new category for herself in the lexicon of political blunders.

“For Kristi Noem, it’s hard to even call this an unforced error,” Bartlett said, “because she deliberately told this story from something she thought would be a position of strength.”

A Trump-aligned strategist called Noem’s decision “one of the worst PR handlings I’ve ever seen.”

“In America we love beer, baseball, and dogs. It’s bipartisan,” the strategist said. “And to think that Donald Trump would think you’re tough ‘cause you killed a dog? It’s the weirdest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.”

The canine blow-up has also raised questions about who is advising Noem or whether she listens to any sound political advice at all.

“They just don’t know how to handle this,” another veteran GOP strategist said of Noem’s team. “Confirming it yourself, and doing so in a book—this wasn’t a slip of the tongue—it shows kind of a string of bad judgment along the way.”

“What she put in the book is the most positive version of this story she could possibly have,” the strategist added. “Think of it that way.”

Noem’s main champion in Trumpworld has long been Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager in 2016. Several Republicans who spoke with The Daily Beast said Noem’s account of shooting the puppy may well blow back on Lewandowski, who insisted in a Monday talk radio interview in New Hampshire that Noem was “still in the top three” contenders for Trump’s VP pick.

Lewandowski did not return a request for comment.

What’s made matters worse for Noem is that she has aggressively maneuvered to put herself in the VP conversation—magnifying the scrutiny on her missteps not just by Trump’s top lieutenants but by others who are angling for the No. 2 spot, too.

“She’s sort of put herself in the VP or bust bucket,” the MAGA operative said, “and that’s a really bad place to be.”

Bartlett said Noem may have fallen into a trap in her “misguided attempt” to project “some sort of mid-westernly strength.”

“Connecting with rural America to show strength and hard decisions could have been a true asset,” Bartlett said, “but shooting a puppy never is.”

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