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Noem changes attitude toward Obama

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U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., speaks to students Friday afternoon at Mitchell High School. (Chris Mueller/The Daily Republic)2 / 2

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem listened from the back as President Barack Obama delivered his 2012 State of the Union Address.

"That probably reflected a little bit about what my attitude was," Noem said. "I didn't show up early. I was sitting in the back."

As Noem, a Republican, listened to the Democratic president's speech, she began to get angry.

"It was during that speech, I realized I was hoping he wouldn't be able to get his point across," she said. "I was hoping that the American people would really be confused by what he was saying."

In an instant, Noem was swept up with a sense of guilt and had a sudden realization of what she herself described as a "poor attitude" about the president's agenda and viewpoints. She first described the realization in a recent appearance on "The 700 Club" and discussed it again in an interview Friday with The Daily Republic's editorial board at the newspaper's office in Mitchell.

"I think that speech was the point I realized, no matter what our history is or how much I disagree, I still should want him to be successful because he's the leader of our country," she said. "He's truly the one that has a lot of authority to make things happen."

Noem realized if her attitude about the president didn't change -- if she didn't stop hoping for his failure -- she too could never be successful.

"At the beginning of the speech, I was hoping for failure on his part," Noem said. "At the end of it, I realized that I needed to pray for his success."

While she may always disagree with the president on some policy issues, Noem said the attitude change has helped her take a new approach to her work.

"I think it's very important we don't get into this contentious relationship where all we do is butt heads," she said. "Then there truly is no hope for progress."