South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks before former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes the stage during a Buckeye Values PAC Rally in Vandalia, Ohio, on March 16, 2024. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump has praised South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, saying he likes her “a lot” and that she’s gone through “rough” days amid controversy of her newly released book.

“She had a rough couple of days. I will say that,” Trump said in an interview with Wisconsin’s Spectrum News 1 on Tuesday, while declining to say whether she’s on his shortlist to be his vice president. Noem is among Trump’s close allies whose name has come up as Trump’s potential vice presidential hopefuls.

His comments came as Noem continues to face backlash over several anecdotes in her book, No Going Back, which came out Tuesday.

Noem has been harshly criticized for describing how she shot and killed her 14-month-old dog “Cricket” and was forced to admit what she called “errors” in her book including claiming she once met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That description has been removed from the book, according to the publisher.

Asked about Noem’s vice presidential chances now, Trump declined to say more.

“I like her a lot,” Trump said, adding, “I don’t want to comment on anybody on the list.”

Noem spent the weekend at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club as hundreds of donors and Republican supporters gathered for a spring retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee. She appeared along with others whose names have been speculated about as possible vice presidential picks, including Sens. Tim Scott, Marco Rubio and J.D. Vance.

The South Dakota Republican governor has been upfront about her desire to be vice president, saying she would accept the offer “in a heartbeat.”

At a rally in her home state in September, when she greeted the former president on stage, a graphic popped up on stage reading “TRUMP-NOEM 2024.” She also endorsed Trump at the rally.

Trump has boasted about Noem’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as she campaigned for him in early states.

However, her recent efforts to explain the mistakes in her book, as well as a lawsuit stemming from an ad she released promoting an out-of-state dentist, have affected her reputation. Sources have told ABC News that Noem’s chances at being selected as Trump’s running mate are bleak.

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