Watch CBS News

Transcript: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on "Face the Nation," May 5, 2024

Noem: "I want the truth to be out there" about killing her dog
Gov. Kristi Noem says "I want the truth to be out there" after viral story of killing her dog 15:08

The following is a transcript of an interview with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem that aired on May 5, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We begin this morning with the Republican governor of the state of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, her upcoming memoir. No Going Back, is out this Tuesday. And she joins us from Watertown, South Dakota. Welcome back to Face the Nation.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM: Thank you, Margaret. Thank you for inviting me to be on with you today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Governor, I have your book right here, the very first blurb in it is an endorsement from Donald Trump. He says this book gets a winner, lays out a fantastic plan to make America great again. I know you're back from a gathering with Mr. Trump and other Republicans in Florida. Did he mention any of the response to your book at all?

GOV. NOEM: Oh, he certainly knows about the book, and I appreciate his endorsement of it. You know, this is really a book that talks about how we're not going back. It's- we're no going back to the days before Donald Trump, Donald Trump broke politics. And I think that's a good thing. We're not going back to the days of Mitt Romney or the Bushes, that now there's a new way to do and talk to the American people, and they appreciate it. It's an honest, genuine conversation about what these citizens can do to take back their government and to have more input. So this book is really a how to guide for how to make your voice heard and how for people in this country, what they can do to really make sure that they are getting genuine elected officials that really want to give them more freedom and liberty.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you write about lessons learned in leadership, and you bring up some specific incidents I want to ask you about. You talk about meeting some world leaders and one specific one, quote, "I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, I'm sure he underestimated me having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants. I've been a children's pastor after all." Did you meet Kim Jong Un?

GOV. NOEM: Well, you know, as soon as this was brought to my attention, I certainly made some changes and looked at this- this passage, and I've met with many, many world leaders, I've traveled around the world. As soon as it was brought to my attention, we went forward and have made some edits. So I'm glad that this book is being released in a couple of days, and that those edits will be in place, and that people will- will have the updated version. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you did not meet with Kim Jong Un? That's what you're saying.

GOV. NOEM: No, I've met with many, many world leaders, many world leaders. I've traveled around the world, I think I've talked extensively in this book about my time serving in Congress, my time as governor, before governor, some of the travels that I've had. I'm not going to talk about my specific meetings with world leaders, I'm just not going to do that. This anecdote shouldn't have been in the book, and as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted. So the book is not released until Tuesday. And so we're doing all that we can to make sure that those changes are made. And I'm going to continue to focus on what this book is, and the blueprint that it lays out for the American citizen on all of the things in the background and stories of my life, but also what I think that needs to be identified in politics and was broken today. I talk about how broken the money game is, how broken it is that-that we've got consultants that are getting rich off of elected officials, and then how fake some elected politicians are. 


GOV. NOEM: Every single person in this country wants someone in elected office that's- that's a human being that doesn't say they're perfect. I take responsibility for that being in the book. And as soon as it was brought to my attention, I asked for it to be changed. So I'm glad that the release date is in a couple of days. And we're excited to talk to America, about my new book. No Going Back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you talk about your time in the Armed Services Committee from 2013 to 2015. In that period of time, the leader of South Korea was a female president. I'm wondering, who is it that you confused Kim Jong Un with?

GOV. NOEM: Well, I think you need to remember Margaret, and everybody needs to remember that I've worked on Ag policy and federal policy for over 30 years. My time in serving and making policies in this country has been extensive and covered decades–

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Right, but you never went to North Korea-- 

GOV. NOEM: I made no specifics in this book, I talk about the fact that– yes, I have. I've been there. 

MARGARET BRENNAN:  You went- you went to North Korea?

GOV. NOEM: I went to the DMZ. And there are details- there details in this book that talk about going to the DMZ and specifics that I'm willing to share. There's some specifics I'm not willing to share with you. I've traveled the world, and I visited with world leaders. And some of that is referenced in the book. And this anecdote is something that when it was brought to my attention, we made some changes, and when the book is released, we'll do all that we can to see that, that that is reflected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, I'm asking you about that specifically because you made the point to bring him up twice, and that he was a "little tyrant."--

GOV. NOEM: -- Do you have a question for me, Margaret?

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Yes, I do. South Korea is a treaty ally, North Korea is a nuclear armed adversary, so That's a–

GOV. NOEM: Hello? 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- pretty big thing to confuse. I know you read this book before it was published–

GOV. NOEM: I'm sorry I – 

MARGARET BRENNAN: – because you released video of your recording of the audio book. you didn't catch these errors when you were recording it?

GOV. NOEM: Well, Margaret, as soon as it was brought to my attention, I took action to make sure that it was reflected. And listen, this is what is so discouraging about politics in the media today, is that we have the White House that just recently came out and confirmed that President Joe Biden has misspoken, has made mistakes, has even outright lied over close to 150 times just this year, and you've done nothing to question him on any of that. And you're- you're talking about a book that hasn't been released yet that's been corrected before it's been released. And you haven't said one thing about Joe Biden saying that he was in prison with Nelson Mandela, that he started the Civil Rights Movement.


MARGARET BRENNAN: -- If I had an interview with Joe Biden, who I've asked for multiple times, I will definitely ask him about his record. But I'm asking you about your book here, which we have-- 

GOV. NOEM: -- I'm just asking for why- why am I being treated differently than every other person that you've interviewed? I've looked at your last several weeks of your interviews–

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- I'm quoting you-- 

GOV. NOEM:  -- You don't, you don't interrupt other people, you let them talk, thank you for inviting me to have this conversation about this book. This book is extremely important to the people of this country. It is important because it's a how to guide of what they can do to have input into their government, how we need breakers and builders in this world. And I'm taking responsibility for the change that we've made. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Okay. And for the mistake in the book?-- 

GOV. NOEM: -- I've told you that and I'm– no, it's not, what I've said is that I have decided– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're not taking responsibility for the mistakes in the book? 


GOV. NOEM: I am saying that this book is very, very good. And I've met with many world leaders, and that either world leaders that I've met with that are in this book, there are many that I met with that are not in this book. And this is an anecdote that- that I asked to have removed, because I think it's appropriate at this point in time, but I'm not going to talk to you about those personal meetings that I've had with world leaders. I'm just not going to have that conversation because I think it's important. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. You do mention Benjamin Netanyahu as well, though in it among world leaders. In an interview with TIME Magazine this week, former President Donald Trump was asked about Israel and Hamas, and he said, quote, "Bibi Netanyahu rightfully has been criticized for what took place on October 7." Do you agree with Mr. Trump?

GOV. NOEM: I think that Bibi Netanyahu was a strong leader who's leading Israel through extremely difficult times. October 7th was horrific, and the crimes that Hamas committed against the Jewish people were absolutely awful, and that the United States of America should stand strong with our allies in the Middle East. I'm proud to- to know the Jewish people and their leaders over many, many years. And I think that what Hamas is doing and the atrocities that were committed are horrific, and that we should never stand for the anti-semitism that we see going on in the United States of America. And what's happens on our college campuses is absolutely devastating. It should be shut down immediately. I'm disappointed that President Joe Biden didn't take action immediately to stop these violent crimes against the Jewish people that have happened on our own college campuses right here in the United States of America, should have never been allowed and it should be stopped today. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so you don't agree with Mr. Trump's statement there. I want to ask you again about the book. I- I know you know, this question is coming, because there's been such an enormous backlash about your revelation that you shot and killed a Wirehair Pointer or named Cricket, who was 14 months old. You say in the book, she came from another family that struggled with her aggression, you'd been training her to hunt, she got too excited, ruined the hunt, and then attacked and killed some chickens. I wonder if you have regrets about sharing this story.

GOV. NOEM: You know, Margaret, this book is filled with vulnerable, painful moments in my life, filled with times where I've made very difficult decisions. The reason that this story is in the book because people need to understand who I am and some of those difficult decisions. This was a dangerous animal that was killing livestock and attacking people. And- and I had little children at the time, our operation had many kids running around and people in interaction with the public. And I made a difficult choice. I think you're a mother too. And you have little kiddos, would you make a choice between your children or a dangerous animal? And I think I would ask everybody in the country to put themselves in that situation. Because that's what I faced and I talk about it because what I'm tired of in this country is politicians who pretend to be something that they're not. That they aren't willing to have the hard conversations and look at the past and the tough decisions that they've made. I'm- what I talk about in the book extensively when people are able to get it on Tuesday is to see the whole story and the truth, not the spin that the media has put on this story. The media has put some or removed- removed most of the facts and and what the reason this is in there is because I want people to know that I don't ask anybody else to take on my responsibilities. I understood my responsibility. And as a mom, I made a choice between protecting my children, and protecting them from a dangerous animal that was killing livestock and attacking people. And that's a decision that I made-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN:  -- Well, I-I described- I described- I think accurately how you wrote it up in the book. You didn't say the dog attacked people, you said it had tried to bite you. And I just wonder why you concluded that a young dog was untrainable and not just take it to a shelter?

GOV. NOEM: This dog was a- well, this dog was a working dog. And it had come from a family that already had issues with this dog. And I had put months and months of training into this dog. This dog had gone to other trainers as well. So -so all of that is the facts of the story. And all of that shows that when you put someone in a position where they have to make a decision, and they want to protect their family, and protect children and other people from getting attacked from an animal that has attacked others and killed livestock, that's the choice I made over 20 years ago. And that I didn't ask somebody else to take- take that responsibility for me, that I had to make that decision myself.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Because you put it in a part of a chapter called "Bad Day to Be a Goat." And then after you shot the dog, you quote "realized another unpleasant job needed to be done walking back up to the yard, I spotted our billy goat." You said he smelled and would chase kids. So you took him to the gravel pit and shot him twice. How- how do you justify that? How was the goat a threat? And I'm asking you this because it seems like you're celebrating the killing of the animals.

GOV. NOEM: Not at all. This has been a story that my political opponents have tried to use against me for years. It's well known in South Dakota, and it has been to other people. And I want the truth to be out there and to understand that- that these animals were attacking my children, that- that we live on a farm and ranch and the tough decisions are made many times. And it is- it is to protect people. And I'll tell you the- the extremism of other people and how they have attacked me politically, I understand it. They're doing the same thing to me, that they do to Donald Trump every day, every day. The constant attacks and coming after- during COVID, I was attacked at night after night for months after month for the decisions that I made. In fact, you and many other journalists attacked me every single day on TV for months for the decisions that I made in South Dakota, for my people to protect their freedoms-- 


MARGARET BRENNAN:  -- I think we had a very, I think we had a very fair interview-- 

GOV. NOEM: -- So-so I'm used to being attacked-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- When you joined us ma'am at that time and I thanked you for answering questions on it. But on the- on this point, though, because you have been rumored to be a potential vice-presidential candidate, as you know. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said "killing the dog and then writing about it ended any possibility of her being picked as VP." You talk multiple times about it. In fact, at the end of the book, you say the very first thing you would do if you got to the White House that was different from Joe Biden, is you'd make sure Joe Biden's dog was nowhere on the grounds, Commander say hello to Cricket. Are you doing this to try to look tough? Do you still think that you have a shot at being a VP?

GOV. NOEM: Well, number one, Joe Biden's dog has attacked 24 Secret Service people. So how many people is enough people to be attacked and dangerously hurt before you make a decision on a dog? And -- 


MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Well he's not living at the White House anymore--  

GOV. NOEM: -- That's the question that the President should be held accountable to. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- You're saying he should be shot?-- 

GOV. NOEM: -- That what's the president should be accountable to. What is- what is the number. And I would say about Republicans criticizing me. These are the same Republicans have criticized me during COVID. They've criticized me when I've made other decisions in South Dakota to protect my state. And my state today is extremely happy and thriving. We're doing well. We've got thousands of people moving to our state, because they love the opportunities that are here and the businesses that have come and how we've gotten to be a state that has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Everybody has an opportunity for higher wages. We've got revenues and reserves, we paid off our debt. We've got a triple A credit rating, we've got a fully funded pension system. We were the first state in the nation to-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- so you're not going to retract the book? -- 

GOV. NOEM: -- Bring a bill to prevent China-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Governor--  

GOV. NOEM: -- I- this book is a powerful book. It's an honest book. It's an honest book about- blueprint for America of what citizens can do here to take their country back. And I'm so proud of this book and- and what it will bring to people. I hope that they will buy it they'll find a lot of truthful stories and we talk a lot about what we can use as an example from Donald Trump on how he has continued to be a real person, been genuine and been honest to people and that-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- But if you have to retract it, or parts of it-- 

GOV. NOEM: -- And that what bothers me most about politicians is when they're fake. I'm not retracting anything. I'm not retracting anything. No this book-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright, Governor thank you for taking the questions and joining us today. Face the Nation will be back in a minute, stay with us. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.