Buck Challenges Governor Noem on Vaccine, Transgender Bills

26 Aug 2021

CLAY: We promised you that we would continue to update you with all of the latest news surrounding the disaster of the Afghanistan evacuation, and we have some very bad news for you. The Wall Street Journal in the last couple of minutes reporting — and I’m reading directly from their article.

We’re gonna be joined by Governor Kristi Noem here in a moment, but this is the opening paragraph of the Wall Street Journal story that just came down: “The U.S. envoy in Kabul told embassy staff there that four U.S. Marines were killed in the attack at the city’s airport and three wounded, a U.S. official with knowledge of the briefing said.”

At least three U.S. troops were injured. But, again, opening line of this sentence from their story at the Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. envoy in Kabul told embassy staff there that four U.S. Marines were killed in the attack at the city’s airport and three wounded.” That is per the Wall Street Journal. We bring in now Kristi Noem, governor. And, Governor, I imagine you’re hearing that news as we are just now. What is your reaction?

GOV. NOEM: It’s horrific. I can’t imagine what their families are feeling right now. And they’re watching their loved ones serve their country in a situation they never should have been in because of failed leadership by the United States president. So, you know, this is a situation that, unfortunately, we’re gonna have to continue day by day to get through, but we absolutely have to recognize that the responsibility for this lays on the administration and that when we get all the Americans safely to a position where they can be protected, that we need to dig into how this ever happened and hold people accountable.

CLAY: I want to say, too, for everybody out there listening, we’re trying to bring you as much news as it happens as we can. I know that a lot of you have friends, family, loved ones that are in the military. Many of you listening to us right now may have friends, family, and loved ones who are among those who are in Afghanistan right now, and we know how difficult hearing news like this can be for you.

But we’re trying to bring you the latest updates as we get it, and that news just came down. We’re talking to Governor Kristi Noem. Governor, it’s difficult to even understand how much of a disaster this is for our country to have failed — the Joe Biden administration to have failed — on this level. I know we’re still dealing with and grappling with the tragedies that are unfurling in real time.

But sooner or later, we will go back, and we will review the decisions that were made here. If we are in the process of having had Donald Trump impeached over a phone call, when you watch what’s going on in Afghanistan right now, there have to be significant consequences for the Biden administration with one of the biggest failures in decades in American history, maybe the biggest in most of the people who are listening right now’s lives. What needs to be happen here?

GOV. NOEM: Well, let me be clear, Clay, everything has to be on the table. Because what I’ve been struggling with is two different things in this situation. Number one, I served on the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives for years. And there’s protocols to withdrawing from this type of a situation. The Department of Defense, the Pentagon, there are boxes you check.

There is normal, standard operating procedures with how you withdraw troops from a war zone and from an area that’s dangerous like this. And President Trump laid out the blueprint perfectly when he withdrew our troops from Iraq. He defeated ISIS first, and we were able to withdraw from a position of strength.

So absolutely. I’m trying to figure out what was a decision that was made by this administration and what was just inept and idiot decisions that were made by leaders that weren’t protecting our national security interests every single day. And that’s really what we’re gonna have to get to the bottom of, and, boy, we are absolutely gonna hold those accountable who made those decisions or who overlooked the importance of keeping our American troops and our American citizens safe.

BUCK: Governor Noem, it’s Buck. I appreciate your perspective on issues in Afghanistan, and we will continue to update everybody over the course of the show about what is happening on the ground there and what the security situation is as seems to be rapidly deteriorating. I also wanted to get your view on the situation here at home. I would argue that we are in a period where freedom — individual freedom — is under greater assault than at any time in my lifetime.

Because of covid, because of the vaccine mandates, the mask requirements, all these different regulations that are going into effect. Now there are private companies. Now the federal government’s getting involved. You had before you the opportunity — and if you want to add some context to exactly what the bill would have done, by all means; you’re the one who’s actually the governor in South Dakota.

But you had an opportunity to sign something that your Republican-dominated legislature would have put forward to protect individuals on the basis of conscience from being forced by private businesses in your state to get vaccinated. Why did you oppose them on this? Why are you unwilling to go forward with that?

GOV. NOEM: Well, that is not true. Number one, in the state of South Dakota the people have been more free than anywhere else in this country during this pandemic. We never once closed a single business, never once ordered a shelter-in-place, never mandated anything such as masks or requirements at all.

BUCK: Okay, that’s analysis. What’s not true?

GOV. NOEM: What is not true is the fact that this bill was proposed to me and brought to me by my legislature. I have two legislators who drafted a bill that they can call themselves into session if they have the support of their colleagues to bring it to me and place it on my desk.

BUCK: Will you sign it?

GOV. NOEM: Their bill is unlike anything that is proposed in this country. And the reason that I am not in favor of their bill is because I’m a conservative. I’m a conservative that respects the Constitution, and I believe that leaders today are overstepping their authority. We lived through 18 months of hell and had leaders who overstepped their authority —

BUCK: So, in what constitutional analysis do you, under your state health authority, not have the right to do this?

GOV. NOEM: — because these guys in this bill are trying to make a government that’s more powerful and that is bigger, that will step in between the relationship between people and their employers and will make decisions for them. And when I’m not governor anymore, how do I know the next governor won’t use that exact same precedent to use it to limit the freedom of the people?


BUCK: But you are the governor now, Governor Noem, and right now we’re at that point where there are mandates going. People are having to get shots right now. People are facing losing their jobs right now.

GOV. NOEM: Oh, my —

BUCK: Why not be a person who is taking a stand in favor of individual freedom, which I believe is actually the primary purpose of the Constitution?

GOV. NOEM: (chuckles)

BUCK: Why not do that?

GOV. NOEM: And there is nobody in this country that would — would say that I… No other governor took more heat over defending liberty and freedom than I did this last year. Now, listen, if you’re saying that, Buck —

BUCK: I think Governor Ron DeSantis might disagree, but keep going.

GOV. NOEM: Buck, you invited me on your show. Let me talk.

BUCK: Go ahead.

GOV. NOEM: If you think… If you think that I have the authority to step in between this relationship, then you think Joe Biden should be able to mandate vaccines to everybody in this country as well, and I’ve already been very —

BUCK: That’s not true.

GOV. NOEM: Yes, it is.

BUCK: You have more power at the state level. You have plenary power.


BUCK: He has… I just disagree with your constitutional analysis.

GOV. NOEM: I completely disagree with you. Government must be constrained by the Constitution. It is not conservative to grow government and to tell and dictate to businesses. If we did that, Buck, then you’re saying it’s okay for liberals to tell cake bakers that they have to bake cakes for gay marriages, that liberals in government have the ability to tell nuns and Hobby Lobby that they have to provide contraception to their employees.

Now, conservatives like myself, they fight that government overreach tooth and nail. We tell employers that they have a relationship with their employees — and South Dakota is a right-to-work state. This bill that these legislators have discussed is pro-labor; it’s pro union. There’s no other bill in this country that is written like this bill we have in South Dakota. And I will get up every single day and continue to fight for me people.

BUCK: So, out of curiosity, because this is the second time —

GOV. NOEM: I have said that I will not be mandating to my state employees.

BUCK: No, I — Governor?

GOV. NOEM: I’ve banned vaccine passports in the state of South Dakota.

BUCK: No, this is not — I understand. I’m not asking you about the rest of what you’ve done in the process of covid. I’m asking you about what you’ve done right now. Conservatives were —

GOV. NOEM: What would make you think, Buck —

BUCK: Conservatives were —

GOV. NOEM: — that of all the decisions I’ve made in this country…?

BUCK: Madam?

GOV. NOEM: — what would make you think of everything I’ve done…?

BUCK: I would like to ask you another question.

GOV. NOEM: Sure.

BUCK: I would like to ask you another question. It’s actually my show. So, tell me this. When you initially opposed the transgender bill from your legislature, you said it was because — and, by the way, I don’t work for the South Dakota legislature, so I don’t know. There’s something… There was some revision, some changes you want to have happen. Did you ever actually get those revisions and sign a bill to protect women from having to compete against men in sports in your state?

GOV. NOEM: Absolutely. I’ve got an executive order in place right now that protect girls sports in K-12 and college athletics. I already have drafted bills that I’ll be bringing when we go into session that will be signed into law. That was not the question with those bills that were brought to South Dakota. Those bills would have immediately, because they were so flawed, would have ended up in court, and I wouldn’t have been able to enforce anything in South Dakota.

BUCK: So, your executive order will not end up in court?

GOV. NOEM: It will not. It absolutely will not, and neither will the bills we’ll be bringing because they can be drafted correctly with withstand challenges in court.


BUCK: So, I’m glad to hear there was follow-up on that and just to be clear you, under no circumstances, sign anything and wherever it may be in the process that would prevent private businesses…? I mean, I just… So, it’s because you think that Big Government…? Because the other side is going to do this. You’re talking about unilateral disarmament and saying that Joe Biden is gonna push this at the federal level.

GOV. NOEM: Then, Buck, we’re no better than they are.

BUCK: He’s going to do this no matter what you do. Why not use your power as the governor of a very red state to protect individual rights from vaccine mandates by businesses? You can do it under your state authority.

GOV. NOEM: You ask every single family that’s living in a Democrat-run state right now what happened when the government overstepped their authority and took away their rights and freedoms. I do not have the authority to dictate what you’re asking me to do. I will not step out of my role as government, and I will not — governor, and I will not — go forward and do something that I don’t have the authority under the Constitution to do.

I will give people every tool that they possibly can have to fight, and I will fight for them, and I will make sure that I’m going after and suing the Biden administration for these vaccine mandates that I will go after and continue to defend their freedoms and make sure that I’m not sure requiring my state employees to get vaccinated. I have already banned vaccine passports here.

And that is exactly the respect that I have for this country. When you have a leader, Buck, llike you’re asking me to do. When you have a leader overstep their authority, especially in a time of crisis, that’s when we lose this country, and what you’re asking me to do is no better than what these liberals have done the last 18 months in this country when they don’t (crosstalk) people.

BUCK: I think you’re ducking, and I think you’re refusing to take a stand once again.

GOV. NOEM: Ohhh! You’re kidding.

BUCK: That’s what I think.

GOV. NOEM: That’s not true.

BUCK: So we are free to disagree on this issue, but you have a state that would back you on this. You have the votes in the originally if you’re willing to go forward with it, and someone has to be in the vanguard here for freedom.

GOV. NOEM: Then they can… Buck, if they have support… Buck, if they —

BUCK: Someone has to actually say enough is enough.

GOV. NOEM: For that written bill that those two legislators have, they absolutely can bring that bill, call themselves into session, and bring it to me and I’ll evaluate it.

BUCK: So will you sign it? I mean, you said —

GOV. NOEM: But what they are doing —

BUCK: By the way, you said you would sign the trans bill and then backed off of it. We know that happened. Would you sign this bill or not?

GOV. NOEM: That is not true, Buck, and I don’t know where…

BUCK: All right. Okay. Fair enough.

GOV. NOEM: You haven’t been to South Dakota — have you? — during our legislative session and heard these debates?

CLAY: Governor, let me ask you this. We gotta hit a break here in a sec. What is your view on masks on school children? We’ve got all sorts of craziness going on as it pertains to kids being required to wear masks. In South Dakota, what’s your perspective on that?

GOV. NOEM: Our kids are not going to be wearing masks in schools. Our K-12 system, I think, overwhelmingly everyone agrees that it’s best for kids to go back and be in the classroom and to do that in an environment where they can learn and be successful.

BUCK: All right, Governor Noem. We do appreciate you coming on the show and talking to us about all these issues —

GOV. NOEM: Absolutely!

BUCK: — and we certainly are all aligned on getting all Americans out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. We look forward to talking to you again soon.

GOV. NOEM: Sounds great. Thanks, Buck and Clay. Have a great day.

BUCK: Thank you so much.


BUCK: First, I would say thank you to Governor Kristi Noem for coming on and for being willing to hear an opposing point of view. The Noem camp, the comms folks from Noem’s team pretty much… I mean, they didn’t demand, but they very strenuously wanted the opportunity to come on because there’s been a lot of pushback publicly — including from people like me — about what seemed like an unwillingness to go forward with this bill, and we can get into the specifics of it.

But in the aftermath of the transgender bill issue in South Dakota, then there was more criticism over this. The Noem camp wanted to come on, and they wanted to discuss this, and I didn’t want to walk away from it. I have a lot of respect for what Governor Noem has done in the state of South Dakota about covid specifically, and have praised her multiple times on my show.

And I think, Clay, one thing that has to be remembered here is, we have to sometimes hold — in our own minds and whatever that that may — people in positions of power who are on our team. We want them to do the best for their people, and I disagree with the governor’s analysis that she doesn’t have the power. I think I made that very clear. I’m sorry for anybody if there was any crosstalk and also if there was any inability to hear some part of that.

But I think it’s important to know that right now we’re being overrun. Mandates are gonna hit all over the country. And if no one is going to stop, they’re just gonna get you with private sector mandates, they’re gonna get with you federal mandates. Everyone’s gonna be getting the shot soon unless someone comes up with a way to stop it. That’s what we’re heading for, Clay, and that’s very frustrating.

And I think also part of it is I’m angry about what’s happened here in New York City. And I would love to see Governor Noem be the beachhead of sanity and freedom from these mandates, and so if that came across in an impassioned way… But the Noem camp knows that I have a lot of respect for what’s going on there, and just want to say all that. And also respect that she wanted to come on and actually talk about it.

CLAY: Look, people disagree, and I’ve been straightforward and transparent about this for a long time: People disagreeing doesn’t mean that you disagree about everything under the sun. But you and the governor have a disagreement. The governor came on and wanted to talk about that disagreement. I give her credit and her staff for reaching out and wanting to come on, and look —

BUCK: Yeah.

CLAY: — we’re not gonna run from people who disagree with us.

BUCK: If I call someone out in public and they want to come on the show, I’m gonna have them on the show and we’re gonna actually have the discussion on air.

CLAY: Yeah.

BUCK: That’s the way it’s gonna go.

CLAY: I think that’s the perspective of the show as well. We believe the First Amendment should be alive and well so you and the governor —

BUCK: Yeah, yeah. From our team. Not like CNN, obviously. (laughing)


BUCK: Crazy libs.

CLAY: You and the governor have a disagreement, and so you could pretend that you don’t have that disagreement, or her team can say, “Hey, can we come on and talk about this and you guys can go the back-and-forth arguing the two perspectives?” I think that’s what healthy debate should be.


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