In a potential 2024 preview, Tucker Carlson and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sparred over the NCAA and transgender athletes

In a potential 2024 preview, Tucker Carlson and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sparred over the NCAA and transgender athletes
Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviews Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.Fox News
  • Tucker Carlson and Kristi Noem, potential 2024 candidates, butted heads on Fox News on Monday.
  • While the debate was ostensibly about transgender athletes, it previewed their 2024 messaging.
  • "No, that's not right at all, Tucker," Noem said at one point. "In fact, you're wrong. Completely."

An otherwise routine appearance for Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota on Fox News on Monday night turned tense when the host Tucker Carlson asked whether she was "caving" to the NCAA by not signing a bill barring transgender women from competing in women's sports.

There has been heavy speculation that Carlson and Noem will run for president in 2024, making them potential GOP primary opponents.

Insider first reported in July on chatter in Republican circles about a Carlson run. Noem sits at No. 7 in Insider's 2024 GOP primary power rankings, while Carlson is unranked, given the lack of clarity over whether he's serious about a run, a notion he has previously described as "insane."

The bill in question would bar trans women and girls from competing in women's sports in South Dakota.

As Insider's Madison Hall and Kayla Epstein reported, South Dakota's bill is one of 36 similar pieces of legislation being pushed by GOP-controlled legislatures across the country.


On Fox News, Noem tried to explain that signing the bill could lead to a drawn-out court battle that the state would likely lose. Carlson cut her off and paraphrased her.

"But wait, wait, wait - so you're saying the NCAA threatened you, and you don't think you can win that fight," Carlson said. "They said if you sign this we won't allow girls in South Dakota to play, and you don't think you can win in court, even though the public overwhelmingly supports you nationally, and so you're caving to the NCAA. I think that's what you're saying."

"No, that's not right at all, Tucker," Noem responded. "In fact, you're wrong. Completely. I've been working on this issue for years."

Earlier, Carlson described her decision as the result of when "big business intercedes, NCAA, chamber of commerce, and Amazon and tell you not to sign it, and you change your mind."

"Well, that's not true, Tucker," Noem replied, appearing increasingly irritated.


At another point, Carlson questioned why Noem was talking about Title IX, the legal standard that prevents colleges and universities from discriminating in athletics or academics based on sex, when "this is thousands of years of common sense and tradition."

The exchange offered a sample of what their messaging to Republican voters could look like in a primary matchup.

"Girls play girls sports. Boys play boys sports," Carlson continued. "Why not instead just say, 'Bring it on, NCAA. I'm a national figure. Go ahead and try and exclude us. I will fight you in the court of public opinion and defend principle.' Why not just do that?"

Noem said Carlson was "preaching my sermon," adding, "I'm not interested in a participation trophy."

"I'm not interested in picking a fight that we can't win," Noem continued. "I am a problem-solver. I come to the table and I don't want to have talking points. And I've been bullied for the last year by liberals, Tucker."


The South Dakota governor positioned herself as someone who's interested in getting results instead of pursuing Carlson's scorched-earth strategy.

"I'm not going to let anybody from the NCAA, from any big business - I'm not going to even let conservatives on the right bully me," she said. "I'm going to solve the problem. I'm going to make sure that we're building strength in numbers and we're going after the NCAA and make sure that we're keeping only girls playing in girls sports."

As Carlson pushed back, Noem pressed the host over whether he'd read what she was talking about.

"Did you read the bill or the style-and-form message that I sent to the Legislature?" Noem said.

"I did. I did. Yes, but I'm - " Carlson said, before Noem cut him off and wrapped up her remarks.