MANCHESTER, N.H. – North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s far from a household name outside his home state.
And one month into his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Burgum is near the bottom of the field, registering at less than one percent in the most recent Fox News national poll in the GOP primary battle.
But the former software company CEO turned two-term governor of his native state seems far from concerned about his poll position with roughly six months to go until the start of the caucuses and primaries.
‘We don’t have to be leading today. We have to be ahead when the game starts next February,’ Burgum emphasized in a Fox Digital interview as he pointed to the start of the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
Burgum is concentrating his campaign efforts in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that for half a century have led off the Republican schedule. And Burgum, who’s one of the wealthiest candidates in the field of over a dozen GOP White House hopefuls – thanks to his tremendous success in the private sector – has already shelled out over $4 million of his own money to run ads in the two early voting states.
‘We’re very excited about where we are,’ Burgum said as he was interviewed in Manchester, N.H. ‘The reception in Iowa and New Hampshire has been great. And of course, we’re on ground. We’re up on TV and radio. We’re doing everything we can because we’ve got a great story to tell.’
Asked how much of his own money he’d invest into uphill climb towards the GOP nomination, Burgum wouldn’t give a dollar amount. But pointing to his business career, he said ‘I’ve never asked anyone to invest in what I’m doing unless I’m willing to put some skin in the game myself. And the same this on this.’
‘I’ll put dollars into this campaign to get it going,’ he noted before adding that ‘you can’t win races if you’re just trying to win races yourself. You can’t accomplish anything. It takes a whole team. We’re looking forward to running a fully funded campaign but that’s going to come from the people who care about America.’
Burgum is used to challenges. He steered his one-time small business, Great Plains Software, into a $1 billion software company. His business — and its North Dakota-based workers — were eventually acquired by Microsoft, and Burgum stayed on board as a senior vice president.
In 2016, the then first-time candidate and long shot convincingly topped a favored GOP establishment contender to secure the Republican nomination in North Dakota before going on to a landslide victory in the gubernatorial general election in the solidly red state. Burgum was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020 to a second term as governor.
The upcoming Republican presidential primary debates – which kick off with a Fox News hosted showdown August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – could help Burgum alter his campaign’s trajectory.
The governors said he’ll ‘absolutely’ make the stage by reaching the tall contributor and polling thresholds required by the Republican National Committee. ‘We’ll have the 40-thousand donors. We’ll meet that threshold. And we’ll have the polling. That’s a no brainer. We’ll be there.’
Burgum and the rest of the field remain far behind former President Donald Trump, who’s the commanding GOP front-runner as he makes his third straight White House run. While some rivals regularly take aim at Trump, Burgum avoids opportunities to blast the former president.
‘I think America’s talking too much about the past and not enough about the future,’ Burgum said, in a indirect slight at Trump’s many grievances he amplifies on the campaign trail and his repeated re-litigation of his 2020 election loss to President Biden.
‘If we keep talking about the past, this is what the Democrats want because they love it when Republicans talk about the past and about each other,’ Burgum highlighted. ‘You know who else loves it? China loves it. Russia loves it. Our adversaries around the world love it when we do all this infighting. We’ve got to come together as a nation and solve problems. That’s what we’ll do when I’m president.’
The governor then quickly pivoted to blasting which he labeled as President Biden’s failed policies.
Burgum is focusing his presidential campaign on three issues — the economy, energy, and national security. And you don’t hear him talk too often about the culture wars and anti-woke crusades, which are front-and center in the presidential campaigns of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur and political commentator Vivek Ramaswamy.
‘Each campaign, each candidate, can talk about what they want to talk about. We’re talking about the things that we know are the things that affect Americans the most and they affect all Americans. That’s what we’re talking about. And we’re also talking about the things that the president’s actually supposed to do,’ Burgum spotlighted.
He emphasized that ‘there’s a limited set of things the federal government is supposed to do. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president, as a celebrity, is supposed to weigh in in every local issue that could be solved by the library board, could be solved by the city council, could by solved by a township board, or it could be solved by the parents…We don’t have to have the government involved in every aspect of our lives.’
Burgum then stressed that ‘there’s things that we need to do, including national security which includes border security. These are things the federal government is supposed to do. The Biden administration’s literally not doing the job they were elected to do.’