Tue. May 28th, 2024

Donald Trump reportedly acknowledged South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s recent controversies at a private fundraiser in Manhattan on Tuesday night. Noem, a Republican, received widespread backlash when an excerpt of her now-released book No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward made headlines due to a passage whereby she admitted to shooting and killing her 14-month old dog, Cricket, years ago.

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“I’m really curious… about the dog,” Trump reportedly said according to three sources who were at the fundraiser, per NBC News. He is said to have spent some time riffing about the scandal, during which he referred to Noem as “controversial.” Nevertheless, he reportedly ended on a positive note, saying of Noem: “She’s been there for us for a long time… She’s loyal, she’s great.”

Noem was one of several Vice President contenders reportedly in attendance at Trump’s fundraiser, along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Read More: The Kristi Noem and Kim Jong Un Controversy, Explained

A spokesperson for Noem told NBC that the South Dakota representative “appreciated President Trump’s words of support of her leadership during her time as Governor and was glad to attend the event at his request.”

TIME has reached out to Noem and the Trump campaign for comment. 

Elsewhere, Trump commented on Noem in an interview on the The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, which was published on Tuesday. Trump, the former President and current Republican frontrunner for renomination, said that Noem had “a couple of rough stories, there’s no question about it… The dog story, people hear that and people from different parts of the country probably feel a little bit differently but that’s a tough story, but she’s a terrific person.” Trump also indicated that it was likely Noem had a ghostwriter for her book. “Sometimes you do books and you have some guy writing a book and you maybe don’t read it as carefully,” he said.

Read More: Kristi Noem Suggests Biden’s Dog Should Be Shot Like Hers

Noem had stated that the dog was “untrainable” and had an “aggressive personality,” according to the Guardian. Per her book, Noem had intended to train Cricket to hunt pheasant, a type of bird. However, the dog reportedly caused problems on the family’s hunting trips and once tried to attack Noem. Her decision to shoot the animal prompted intense backlash on social media.

In a social media post addressing the backlash, Noem said that while she could understand why people were upset about a “20 year old story”, she wanted to be “authentic” and not “shy away from tough challenges.” In the post shared on X (formerly Twitter), Noem said because the dog had attacked and killed livestock, she was legally allowed to put it down, and she made the decision based on Cricket’s “aggressive behavior.”

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