Kristi Noem, CPAC superstar

At the CPAC conference of conservative activists, quite a few stars of the GOP have come out to shine. Compared to the Democrats, conservatives have a surfeit.

One stood out yesterday, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, under whose leadership, her state came out among the best on the COVID response.

Looking like a million bucks, she spoke of freedom, constitutionality, liberty, state's rights, fiscal discipline, and cited the facts and figures of her gubernatorial record:

But perhaps the second-best part was when she compared her record to that of the Democrats' fallen Lucifer, New York's Gov Andrew Cuomo, who seeded nursing homes with COVID patients and ended up with the world's second-highest death rate, a failure all around who was praised in the press and is now going down. Citing an interview she took with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Fox News reported:

"[Stephanopoulos] asked Cuomo to give me advice on how to deal with COVID.  Now seems like a good time to remind everyone of what Governor Cuomo was doing in New York," she remarked, summarily diving into the specifics of the nursing home scandal now swirling in Albany.

She noted how in March, New York State ordered COVID patients into nursing homes before pushing legislation prohibiting nursing home lawsuits over COVID deaths.

"Six days after that, he prohibited nursing homes from sending COVID patients to the nearby Naval hospital ship or the field hospital -- Both of which were essentially empty."

President Trump had ordered the "Comfort" into Upper New York Harbor and Rev. Franklin Graham set up a field hospital in Central Park in order to help Cuomo and New York's burgeoning crisis at the time.

"Eight days after that, the first deaths began to show up," Noem said.

Better still was the last part of her speech, her personal story -- a story of being dumped into the management of a ranch after the sudden death of her father in a farming accident, being overwhelmed and bewildered, and then discovering a tape in his truck of his best farming instructions, and calling it a gift from the Lord looking after her. It was beautiful. It was original. It was the kind of story people like to tell. It was far from the canned 'personal stories' Democrats always begin their speeches with, because it came off as very real. Noem spent her early 20s managing a huge farm ranch, developing early leadership and responsibility skills, and marking the person she's since become.

And that's noteworthy, given that she might just be a GOP presidential candidate in line for 2024.

The Dems may fall into their typical rat's nest infighting, but if they come up with an unscathed candidate, it may well be Kamala Harris. Noem could counter her more than a little credibly.

Sure, the Dems would bring up that like Sarah Palin, Noem was once a beauty queen. But Noem's personal story would vaporize that "narrative," which many ordinary Americans share, and make the Dems touting it look like boobs.

Worse still, talk about youth inevitably brings up Harris's round-heels record, of sucking up to the rich and sleeping her way to the top. It's something I've written about here and here.

The obvious leader of the party is Donald Trump at this point. But with contenders like Kristi Noem and Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis, pretty much anything can happen. If Trump doesn't run, his endorsement is absolute gold to whoever does. Think Kristi Noem, who unlike Nikki Haley and a few others hasn't distanced herself from him, might be pleasing to him? You make the call.

Image: Screen shot from CPAC video, via shareable YouTube