Kristi Noem found herself again at the center of social media chatter Tuesday, this time after a photograph of her holding a flamethrower gained national attention.
The Republican governor of South Dakota posted a photo of herself holding the flamethrower on Monday night with the caption, “Is it too late to add something to my Christmas list?”
The Instagram post had nearly 30,000 likes and more than 730 comments as of Tuesday night. Another post from a RealClearPolitics showing the photo had more than 600 retweets.
Noem’s communications specialist, Ian Fury, said in a response to the post that the governor does not own the contraption.
“To be clear, it’s not her flamethrower,” he said, though not responding to inquiries about who it belonged to or where the photograph was taken.
The flamethrower photograph is the latest page in Noem’s rise to national prominence in the GOP while campaigning for President Donald Trump and taking a hands-off approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s also brought an increasingly bright spotlight from the national media and attention and criticism of her frequent travel outside of South Dakota while coronavirus cases surged across the country.
Among Noem’s latest out-of-state trips was a headlining appearance at a $2,000-per-plate gala hosted by the right-wing organization Turning Point at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
As far as the flamethrower goes, they’re not that uncommon. They’re available online and are even stocked at local firearms and ammunition stores.