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Noem passes on Rapid tea party events

State Rep. Kristi Noem will not attend either tea party event in Rapid City this month.

Noem, the Republican candidate for the state's sole U.S. House seat, has other commitments both days, according to Josh Shields, her campaign manager.

Two tea party groups in Rapid City are sponsoring rallies in the closing days of the campaign.

On Oct. 26, TV and radio broadcaster and best-selling author Glenn Beck will sign copies of his books and speak at a luncheon appearance sponsored by the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance.

On Oct. 16, veteran rocker, TV show host and conservative spokesman Ted Nugent will attend an event hosted by Citizens for Liberty. Noem was originally announced as attending that event but when she declined to confirm her attendance, her name was removed from the group's announcement.

"Kristi's family has a charity hunt planned at their place in honor of her cousin Ryan, who died earlier this year from liver transplant complications, the same day as the Ted Nugent rally," Shields said in an e-mail to The Daily Republic.

On Oct. 26, Noem will debate Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and independent candidate B. Thomas Marking on South Dakota Public Television.

That debate conflicts with the Beck rally, Shields said, so she can't attend it. But he said Noem, who has attended tea party events in the state this year, isn't backing away from the movement.

"Kristi has met with tea party organizations across the state and many in those groups share Kristi's concern about wasteful spending in Washington, D.C., and our need to restore constitutional principles, including limited government," Shields said.

Russ Levsen, Herseth Sandlin's campaign manager, said Noem hasn't been consistent about her efforts to gain tea party support.

"This is another example of Kristi Noem wanting to have it both ways," Levsen said. "She says she's not a tea party candidate, but she attends numerous tea party events, and she even campaigned for and received the tea party endorsement in the primary election.

"Now, she won't even say whether she would join the Tea Party Caucus if she were elected to Congress," he said.

Shields replied with a jab at Herseth Sandlin.

"Only a politician who has spent nearly 20 years in Washington, D.C., would think they can claim to be a Blue Dog fiscal conservative in one breath and then attack groups of South Dakotans concerned about our nation's reckless spending in the next," he said. "Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin should spend less time attacking fiscal conservatives in South Dakota and instead explain why she supported the $787 billion stimulus."

Levsen said Herseth Sandlin was staying on course as the campaign winds down.

"With just three weeks left until Election Day, we're going to work harder than ever to talk to voters about Stephanie's strong record of doing what's right for South Dakota," he said. "That means fighting for our veterans and working to create jobs through expanded renewable energy. It also means going against her party's leadership when it doesn't make sense for South Dakota, like with the health care bill, the cap-and-trade bill or the Wall Street bailout."

Shields noted that the Rasmussen survey said fiftytwo percent of all voters in the state say the tea party movement is good for the country while 29 percent said it was bad for the country. The poll said 16 percent said it's neither good nor bad.

Noem has been bolstered in recent days by the release of a Rasmussen Reports poll which said she is back in the lead.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters that was released last week gave Noem a 47-44 percent lead over Herseth Sandlin. Six percent listed another candidate in the race, an apparent reference to Marking, and three percent were undecided.

That is a change from the last Rasmussen poll, which gave Herseth Sandlin a 47-45 lead. Noem led in all previous Rasmussen polls.

Republicans have celebrated the Rasmussen Reports results while Democrats have claimed the surveys are biased toward conservative candidates.