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Noem defends telling story about killing dog in new book


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) defended herself Monday after she received mass criticism for sharing a story of shooting and killing her young hunting dog and an improbable anecdote that she met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in her new book.

Noem stood by her decision to kill the 14-month-old dog, Cricket, in a NewsNation interview with Elizabeth Vargas. She explained in the book that the dog was poorly behaved.

“If you read the book, you will see this was something that happened 20 years ago, and this book is filled with vulnerable stories, painful decisions that I’ve had,” she said. 

“And what I want people to know when they read that story is to understand that this has been a story that my political opponents have tried to use against me for years; I wanted them to know the truth,” she continued. “I wanted them to hear it in my words that listen, most politicians would run from the truth. And they would run from making hard decisions. I don’t do either of those.”

She has defended the move as “not a pleasant job” but said it “had to be done.” She called the dog “extremely dangerous.”

Noem, considered among the finalists to be former President Trump’s running mate, has been embroiled in controversy since copies of her book, “No Going Back,” became public. 

The governor also took responsibility for including a story about meeting Kim while traveling internationally. Kim had never met an American leader before Trump in 2018, and there is no evidence that the pair ever met. Noem said the story was not fabricated, but instead merely included by mistake.

“I’ve traveled for years; I’ve been involved in policy for almost 30 years. And so I’ve gone all across the world, I’ve met with world leaders,” she said. “When it was brought to my attention … I asked the publisher if they would remove the name, and they did.”

“I took responsibility for it. The buck stops with me,” she continued. “This anecdote, I should not have put in the book. And I asked to have it taken out, and it is.”

Her publisher, Center Street, said Sunday that the anecdote will be removed from the book before its full release.

“That’s not the answer,” she told Vargas when asked if the story was removed because it is untrue.

The Associated Press noted that Noem traveled to China, Japan and South Korea as part of a congressional delegation in 2014 while she served in the House.

The book reportedly described an instance in which she met with Kim while she was traveling.

“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’d been a children’s pastor, after all),” she wrote in the book, which was obtained by numerous outlets.

A second anecdote regarding the timing of a conversation between Noem and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley also received scrutiny. 

Noem spokesperson Ian Fury told The Hill on Friday that the mistakes have “been communicated to the ghostwriter and editor” and that “the book has not been released yet, and all future editions will be corrected.”

“The media will, of course, try and make these tiny issues huge,” he added.

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