Multiple news outlets are reporting the floodgates opening with rumors of an open secret that has apparently been going on for years. Married South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been engaged in a long-term affair with former Trump 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, also married. Here are the bullet points of details from Daily Mail:
- DailyMail.com uncovered evidence of Lewandowski and Noem’s fling: Dozens of trips that mixed business with pleasure, private flights and luxury resort stays
- The pair met up Friday for a Trump campaign rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, but were careful to have no public interaction – despite being close for years
- The two were first suspected of being romantically involved in 2021, but Noem scornfully dismissed the story as ‘total garbage and a disgusting lie’ at the time
While we should still call this an “alleged” affair and they have denied the rumors when they were brought up in the past, there seems to be more than enough circumstantial evidence and eyewitness accounts of their intimate interactions to conclude the degree of likelihood is extremely high.
The story by NY Post highlighted some of the quotes from those who are blowing the whistle:
“I remember it was so absurdly blatant and public,” said the person, who recalled Noem and Lewandowski getting “handsy” at the bar of the Hyatt Regency Orlando with between 100 and 200 others around.
“It wasn’t like 2 a.m.,” the source said. “It isn’t like we caught them at some dive bar miles away. It’s a lobby bar where everyone is staying and so there’s a bajillion political operatives and journalists and electeds around. I remember I saw it with my own eyes and a couple other people saw it and the blatantness was absurd.”
“This has been a known, open thing and we’ve all been waiting for it to blow up at some point,” the person added.
The liaison emerged one week after Noem, a 51-year-old mom of three, formally endorsed Trump, 77, for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, raising the pitch of speculation that the 45th president would pick her as his running mate.
“He’s 100% banging her,” said a second person familiar with the relationship between Noem and Lewandowski, first reported by DailyMail.com.
The source added that they personally witnessed Noem “sitting on his [Lewandowski’s] lap” and “playing grab-ass” during an event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in December 2020.
Noem is among the top names being floated as the running mate for Donald Trump in 2024. Does having an affair disqualify her? As much as I wish it does — I’m not a fan of the feckless on-again, off-again member of the GOP Establishment — in modern America an affair is not the end for a politician. Lest we forget, Trump himself was known to have engaged in multiple extramarital affairs in his time before the White House.
But here’s the thing. While the act of having an affair is sadly accepted in modern America, the fact that she’s having it with a former Trump campaign manager makes this way too big of a distraction. Uncomfortable questions will follow a Trump-Noem ticket throughout the campaign. Did she get the nod through Lewandowski’s connections? Do their spouses know? Have their spouses met each other? How did it start? Did taxpayers foot the bill on any of the dozens of trips they took together?
There is limited scrutiny now because nobody cares about them, but if she’s tapped for VP then the spotlight will hit maximum brightness. Would they continue to deny or go public? Both paths have massive implications for a hypothetical Trump-Noem campaign.
Let’s set aside politeness for a moment and talk about actual conservative perception. As unfair as most would say it is, a twice-divorced billionaire playboy like Trump having affairs with models is seen less critically than a mother with a teen child who has nurtured a reputation of being Christian and wholesome. No campaign wants the imaginary optics of Noem and Lewandowski “hooking up,” especially since he is married to a 9/11 widow and has four children with her.
Perhaps my bias against her promotes too much wishful thinking, but I believe this should at least knock her down lower on the list if not eliminate her altogether. It’s just going to be too much of a distraction and there are better options available.