In a lengthy profile of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, the New York Times notes details in one paragraph a notion that speaks volumes, and not about the Republican governor. It was a conversation she had with Donald Trump.
“Since the first days after she was elected governor of South Dakota in 2018, Kristi Noem had been working to ensure that President Trump would come to Mount Rushmore for a fireworks-filled July 4 extravaganza.
“After all, the president had told her in the Oval Office that he aspired to have his image etched on the monument. And last year, a White House aide reached out to the governor’s office with a question, according to a Republican official familiar with the conversation: What’s the process to add additional presidents to Mount Rushmore?”
Adding another president to the monument would be impossible. The Argus-Leader spoke with Maureen McGee-Ballinger, the public relations officer at Mt. Rushmore, back in 2018.
“There is no more carvable space up on the sculpture,” McGee-Ballinger said. “When you are looking on the sculpture, it appears there might be some space on the left next to Washington or right next to Lincoln. You are either looking at the rock that is beyond the sculpture (on the right), which is an optical illusion, or on the left, that is not carvable.”
But that didn’t stop the governor in playing to Trump’s fantasies. The Times writes::
In private, the efforts to charm Mr. Trump were more pointed, according to a person familiar with the episode: Ms. Noem greeted him with a four-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included a fifth presidential likeness: his.