Gov. Kristi Noem’s, R-S.D., chief spokesman set off social media users after he attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' abortion stance while issuing a statement on an unrelated issue.
National Review staff writer Nate Hochman revealed the exchange in a post Thursday, explaining he had reached out to Noem’s team for a comment on alleged connections between South Dakota Republican lawmakers and transgender activist and medical groups. After rejecting "any implication that Governor Noem is overly cozy with" the lobbying groups, chief of communications Ian Fury sent a follow-up email contrasting Noem’s abortion record with DeSantis.
"Governor Noem was the only Governor in America on national television defending the Dobbs decision," Fury wrote. "Where was Governor DeSantis? Hiding behind a 15-week ban. Does he believe that 14-week-old babies don’t have a right to live?"
Hochman wrote that Fury's "unprompted diatribe" also included accusing National Review of being "no longer pro-life" because it’s "carrying water for Gov. DeSantis."
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Hochman recounted the story from his Twitter account.
"Kristi Noem's chief of communications unloaded on Ron DeSantis yesterday, accusing DeSantis of ‘hiding behind’ the 15-week abortion ban he signed in April — and questioning if DeSantis believed ‘that 14-week-old babies don’t have a right to live,’ Hocman wrote.
Twitter users piled on Hochman’s account of these comments, criticizing Fury’s attacks while speculating on Noem’s 2024 presidential aspirations.
American Commitment president Phil Kerpen tweeted, "15 weeks is politically sustainable. This is a nonsense attack."
"Absolute clown car performance by @IanTFury. Why is @govkristinoem's team so wildly insecure?" Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer asked.
National Review editor Philip Klein wrote, "Lost in the Trump v DeSantis focus of 2024 has been the open hostility that Kristi Noem's team has had toward DeSantis. @njhochman contacted Noem's spox about an unrelated story and he just unloaded on DeSantis's record on abortion."
"Someone is desperate and scared that her 2024 chances are evaporating already," historian Varad Metha joked.
Independent Women’s Forum senior policy analyst Inez Stepman commented, "The most transparent deflection I’ve maybe ever seen from a Gov’s press shop. ‘What comment do you have, we are reporting on your obvious corruption and capitulation to woke business interests’ ‘RON DESANTIS HATES BABIES’ Shame on everyone involved in this."
"In 2024 news…" NBC News political reporter Allan Smith tweeted.
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The dispute later continued as Fury responded to the National Review report with a lengthy Twitter thread, reiterating his attacks against DeSantis and claiming Hochman "long ago outed himself as someone with an unhealthy bias against @KristiNoem. When his narrative is proven false, he doesn’t let facts get in the way of his efforts to take her down. Here are a few of the most egregious errors in his most recent reporting."
"My comments to Nate regarding his motivations have gotten some attention. I’ll be more blunt here. Nate is a shill for Gov. DeSantis. He attacks Gov. Noem using the once-proud masthead of National Review because he sees her as a threat. Here are my comments to Nate," Fury wrote in his eleventh of 12 tweets.
"Respectfully, I don't think anyone sees Kristi Noem as a serious threat to DeSantis anymore," Hochman responded. "Pretty much every single claim in Ian's thread is false, but the weirdest one of all is his doubling-down on the idea that my criticisms of Noem are equivalent to ‘shilling’ for DeSantis—a politician that I never mentioned in either the piece itself or my correspondence with Ian.
"The basis of the claim, as best as I can understand it, is that I've written nice things about DeSantis before. The problem is, I've written nice things about a lot of different politicians that I generally like. I'm not sure how one gets from point A to point B here."
DeSantis originally signed a bill restricting abortion access after 15 weeks in April, months prior to the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The bill resembled the 2018 Mississippi law that led to the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that was part of the Supreme Court decision.
In straw polls at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2021, both DeSantis and Noem were seen as potential 2024 presidential candidates, behind former President Donald Trump. After eliminating Trump as an option, DeSantis led the poll at 43% while Noem trailed behind at 11%.
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In December, DeSantis overtook Trump in a poll of GOP presidential primary voters by the Wall Street Journal.