White House

‘Come pick out a mountain’: Trump’s dream is to have his face on Mount Rushmore, SD congresswoman says

The faces of the presidents that make up the Mount Rushmore monument are shown Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, near Keystone, S.D.
The faces of the presidents that make up the Mount Rushmore monument are shown Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, near Keystone, S.D. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Make room, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.

President Donald Trump dreams of snagging a spot on Mount Rushmore, according to U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who says it’s among the first topics he brought up when the two met.

Trump has previously dismissed the idea as a joke, telling a crowd of supporters in Ohio last year that if he raised the possibility “joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say, ‘he believes he should be on Mount Rushmore.’ ”

But Noem’s telling suggests it may be more than a joke.

“We were in the Oval Office,” Noem recounted in a local carpool karaoke interview with Mitchell Olson, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. “He said ‘Kristi, come over here and shake my hand.’”

Noem and Trump shook hands, and she invited the president to visit South Dakota, Noem told Olson (a Vermillion, S.D., native, best known for competing on the second season of “Survivor.”)

Trump then shared his grand idea, Noem said: “Did you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?” Trump asked Noem, according to Noem’s account of the conversation.

“I started laughing,” Noem told Olson. “He wasn’t laughing. He was totally serious.”

About a month later, Trump mentioned Mouth Rushmore in public, Noem told Olson, and there was significant backlash.

But Noem, who is running for governor of her state, seems to be game. “I said: ‘Come pick out a mountain.’ ”

At a July 2017 rally in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump said he couldn’t so much as joke about the idea of being on Mount Rushmore without the “fake news media” making hay of it.

“I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mount Rushmore, but, but here’s the problem,” Trump told the crowd. “If I did it joking, totally joking, having fun, the fake news media will say, ‘he believes he should be on Mount Rushmore.’ So I won’t say it, okay? I won’t say it.”

Trump then continued: “They’ll say it anyway tomorrow: ‘Trump thinks he should be on Mount Rushmore,’ ” he predicted.

Whether he’s joking or not, logistical challenges abound. For example, there’s just not room for more faces, Maureen McGee-Ballinger, a spokeswoman for the monument, told the Argus Leader. She said Mount Rushmore staff are frequently asked if there’s room for more presidents.

"There is no more carvable space up on the sculpture," McGee-Ballinger told the newspaper. "When you are looking on the sculpture, it appears there might be some space on the left next to Washington or right next to Lincoln. You are either looking at the rock that is beyond the sculpture (on the right), which is an optical illusion, or on the left, that is not carvable."

Visitors to Mount Rushmore this week had other ideas.

Speaking to KOTA, they suggested Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Serena Williams be added to the monument. But one said adding Trump would be “hilarious.”

“Maybe he could pucker his lips,” Joye Kuckolls, a visitor from Oregon, told the TV station with a laugh.

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