PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday blamed an inadequate education in American civics as “the root cause” of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, while making no mention of President Donald Trump's role in the attack that sent Congress into hiding.
The Republican governor is a close ally of the president, campaigned for him across the country and supported his efforts to contest the results of the presidential election. Since Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Noem has tried to deflect blame from the president while calling for an end to political violence.
“We have an opportunity to address the root cause of this problem: we must reform young Americans’ civic education,” Noem said in the column released Friday.
The governor declined an interview request Friday from The Associated Press, after avoiding two opportunities earlier in the week to take questions from reporters.
Her spokesman, Ian Fury, pointed to a recent op-ed in the conservative online magazine The Federalist in which she responded to Republicans blaming Trump for the attacks by saying, “If that’s all we get out of this, our future will be no different than our past.”
In her column, Noem called the storming of the Capitol appalling and “horrible to watch." But she did not address Trump's false allegations for weeks that the election had been stolen nor his rhetoric at a rally in Washington right before his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people dead. The House voted this week to impeach Trump for a second time, on a charge of incitement of insurrection, and a trial awaits in the Senate.
Noem said the goal of the curriculum was to teach students that the United States “is the most unique nation in the history of the world.”
Despite recently saying that she is not interested in running for president in 2024, Noem has made moves that signal possible interest in trying to assume Trump’s role as the head of the GOP. She had a prime speaking spot at the Republican National Convention and this month spoke at the party’s winter meeting, which was considered a gathering of presidential hopefuls.