Three years ago, during some of our country’s darkest days in recent history, South Dakota inspired the nation by daring to boldly celebrate our God-given Freedom. While leaders across the world used fear to manipulate, lie, and control people, we chose a different path. On July 3rd, we gathered at this nation’s greatest monument and invited the world’s strongest leader to join us. And President Donald J. Trump showed up.
President Trump showed up, like he always does for the American people.
And he has shown up again here tonight!
I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people across the country about tonight’s events. They want to know why? Why did you invite President Trump to come help support the South Dakota Republican Party? Why would he waste his time in the middle of a presidential race to go to a small, insignificant state like South Dakota? Is President Trump going to pick you as his favorite Governor?
So here are the facts:
Chairman John Wiik had this fantastic idea to bring Republicans in our state together to rally us around our shared values and principles. I loved the idea and told him I would do what I could to help. We started discussing inviting all the candidates running to be President of the United States. Tim Scott was asked… and he declined. Vivek Ramaswamy was invited, and he turned the chairman down. Other candidates were asked, and all told us they had better things to do. But when President Trump was invited to come be with you tonight, he said, “I’ll be there!”
You see, that’s why people love President Trump. He doesn’t listen to consultants, or the media, or the political elite to tell him who is important and what his priorities should be. To him, every American is worth fighting for. No one is better than anyone else. No one deserves to be treated differently than anyone else. And he will never forget about us, the little people in the little states that are the backbone of this country. He shows up for every American and fights for us every day.
Some people can't figure out his popularity – why are people so loyal to him? I’m convinced it’s because we have never seen anything or anyone like him before – and we’ve certainly never seen anyone like him serve in public office before!
He’s unapologetically himself – he’s real – he’s genuine – he is who he is, and he never pretends to be something he’s not. And those who hate America know he will fight every day to stop them from destroying this country.
When I first asked for your support to serve as your Governor, I talked about my vision for South Dakota. I believed our state could grow, become stronger, expand businesses and industry, pay down our debt, and build stronger families – all while preserving our values and way of life.
We have done that. And we didn’t do it through more government control or more taxes. We did it by trusting our people and giving them more opportunities to succeed. When the rest of the country was locking down and ordering people to stay home – we did the exact opposite. We invited people to come to South Dakota and used it as an opportunity to tell our story. We were a “city on a hill” during a very dark time – and we represented hope. A light in the darkness. We showed the country how to do better – be better.
Many are threatened by what South Dakota has done the last several years. Here is why – while big government socialists want more control over you and your family, your money, and your life – we chose personal responsibility. We cut taxes, cut regulations, let families make the best decisions for themselves – and we have thrived.
We have gone from flyover country to one of the fastest growing states in the nation. South Dakota’s real GDP just grew a whopping 10.1%. Our personal incomes just went up by another 9.2%. Those are both top-5 in the nation. Our population has been growing at 5 to 10 times the national average for the past several years. We are a beacon of Freedom to the nation. We have broken tourism records every year since the pandemic. We have grown our economy faster than any other state – and faster than at any time in South Dakota’s history.
Let me give you all a quick refresher course on South Dakota’s story. In January 2020, I stood before the legislature for my “State of the State” address and declared South Dakota “Open for Business.” Just two months later, our first COVID cases came to South Dakota. I knew one thing: the only way that we were going to get through it was together. We made decisions based on the science, the facts, and the data. And the science did not support mandates or lockdowns. We asked South Dakotans to use common sense, and then we trusted them. We trusted them to use personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
And as a community – as a state – we got back to work. Other states were taking a very different approach. They ordered their citizens to shelter in place. Ordered businesses to lock down. Ordered churches to close. Some even sent nursing home patients who had COVID back into their facilities.
Those decisions weren’t leadership. They were made based on fear and control. South Dakota focused on facts, instead. I respected my oath to the United States and South Dakota Constitutions. I respected our people. I respected their Freedom.
If Joe Biden had been President, he would have tried to stop me from protecting you. Thank God President Trump was in the White House at the time – because he let me do my job.
The results have been absolutely incredible. Earlier this year, South Dakota became the first state in American history to reach a 1.8% unemployment rate. No state had ever had an unemployment rate that low! Our people understand the value of work – and purpose – and serving each other. Incomes have been going up faster than anywhere else. Women owned businesses do better here than virtually any other state. Folks are moving here in record numbers. Our birth rates are the highest in the country. Our new housing developments have led the nation. We have had historic tourism numbers, set new records in hunting and fishing licenses sold, and cut taxes all while bringing in historic revenues because of our economic growth. And while other states struggled with out-of-control crime, violence, and hopelessness, South Dakota enforced our laws, respected our law enforcement officers, and saw declining mental health challenges, declining drug overdoses, and declining suicide rates. By embracing our faith and our Freedom – and by working together – our people are happier.
You see, I believe this is one of the main reasons why South Dakota is so attacked by those who want to see us fail. They will do anything, and destroy anyone to get more control and power. We refused to comply.
All we did here in South Dakota is what Republicans have always said they believed – we just did it – and it worked!
That frightens the liberals – because we have proof that our policies lift people up – help people – improve their opportunities for success. We don’t have to speculate, guess, or be philosophical about the benefits of our principles – we have proof that they work.
Three years ago, on July 3rd at Mount Rushmore, I stood there to honor our nation. I quoted one of the four great leaders carved in stone on that mountain. I quoted my favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
That night, I used those words to introduce our special guest who was with us that evening. I introduced him as “someone who knows precisely what it means to brave the dangers of the arena… someone who strives valiantly; who knows great enthusiasms; who spends himself in a worthy cause; and who has firmly and repeatedly stated his commitment to place Americans, American liberty, American safety, and the American Constitution before anything else.”
Let me be clear: there are many who chose not to be in the arena – many who take the easy path, who criticize, who don’t show up for our party, our country, and our Constitutional rights. They don’t show up for you when it matters. They didn’t even show up here tonight to welcome a former President of the United States to South Dakota who cared enough to come support our state Republican Party and our great Chairman John Wiik.
Yes, maybe it’s controversial to be here tonight. Maybe it's not convenient. But it is not the critic who counts. Thank you all for being respectful – for being here for the man who always shows up for us. May we all know the triumph of high achievement because of those like him who fight for freedom. It is a worthy cause.
I was at the southern border just two weeks ago. Make no mistake, it is a warzone, and President Biden’s policies are inhumane. He is ignoring our federal laws, perpetuating drug and human trafficking, and undermining our national security.
The only person in this Presidential race who will fix the situation is President Trump. He started building and funded the wall. He instituted the “Remain in Mexico” Policy. And it worked. He supports our allies, such as Israel and Taiwan, and understands that a strong America brings a safer world.
I trust President Trump to use our military only when it’s in America’s best interests. I have been Commander in Chief of South Dakota’s National Guard. I have had South Dakota Guardsmen and women deployed every single day that I have served as Governor. Before that, I served on the House Armed Services Committee. I know how important American strength is on the world stage. I have seen it firsthand. I have seen President Trump take decisive action time and time again. He exhibits peace through strength. He destroys our enemies swiftly and without hesitation. And he understands that American men and women in uniform should only be deployed as a last resort.
The only person in the race that I trust to do what needs to be done on these issues – is President Trump. I haven’t seen those other candidates fight when it mattered – when it was hard to do the right thing for our country. Some of them talk pretty tough. But where were they when the pandemic was raging, when leaders were taking away people's constitutional rights? Because government told folks they couldn’t gather together, people lost their freedom of assembly. Because government told people they couldn’t go to church, people lost their freedom of religion. Because government censored what information could be shared and what couldn’t, people lost their freedom of speech.
Where were the other candidates then? They were silent. Cowering. Or worse yet, locking down their own people, pushing mandates, and closing beaches – even arresting people for taking spring break.
Yes – I will be attacked for speaking the truth to you all tonight. Yes, I expect Joe Biden, these candidates, their political operatives, and the media will perpetuate ugly, hateful misinformation in an attempt to destroy me and my family because of my opinions. It’s nothing new. I’m getting used to it honestly.
But all of us here tonight need to heed the warning in this well-known quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Do something. Get in the arena.
History cannot and should not be rewritten.
We must remember what has happened in the past, learn from it, and not allow those who abused their power to ever perpetuate their harm again.
To President Trump, my message is clear. It is an honor to have you here in South Dakota. These people here — they’re FREE. We are the strongest state in America because you let me do my job, and we seized that moment and told our story.
As you travel this great country, point to South Dakota as the example of what is possible. We just did here what Republicans have always said they believed. We just did it – and it worked! We don’t have to talk in hypotheticals anymore. We kept businesses open. We kept government out of people’s lives. We cut taxes. Our government lives within its means. We have a surplus, not debt. We fund our pensions. We take care of our veterans. We conserve our natural beauty without government mandates. We fight for true and honest education, because we know how important it is to hand America off to our kids. We stand up for common sense, like fairness in girls’ sports. We do our part to secure the border. We honor America’s heroes. We stand for the flag and kneel for the Almighty. And sing the National Anthem.
This is real America. South Dakota is the example that you should share with the rest of the country. You made America great again once. Let’s do it again.
It is my honor to present to you the man in the arena. He is a man of significance. He is the leader, the fighter, that our country needs. He has my full and complete endorsement for President of the United State of America. I will do everything in my power to help him win to save this great country.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 45th — and 47th — President of the United States, President Donald J. Trump!