GREENLAND, N.H. – North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum is not letting a leg injury sidetrack him from the presidential campaign trail.
Burgum, a dark horse contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, made headlines last week when he injured his Achilles tendon while playing pickup basketball on the eve of first Republican debate.
With the help of crutches, Burgum made the stage at the Fox News hosted showdown in Milwaukee, and the governor notes that he has not canceled any campaign events over the past week.
“We got here on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, right after the debate. We were doing fundraising on Sunday and Monday. And then back here starting yesterday,” Burgum told Fox News Digital in an interview Wednesday as he campaigned in the crucial early voting state of New Hampshire.
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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks to a customer at MaryAnn’s Diner in Derry, New Hampshire, on Aug. 29, 2023. Burgum is using a scooter following a leg injury. (Doug Burgum campaign )
He said the phrase that comes to mind is “cowboy up,” a common phrase in North Dakota. “When you’re injured, and you’ve got work to do, you just gotta get up and do it. And that’s what we’re doing right here,” Burgum said.
Burgum, who faces an eight-week recovery, started with crutches, but has mostly moved to using a scooter to get around in recent days.
“I’m super thrilled about the people who invented the wheel because having been able to toss the crutches and have a scooter. I’m actually the fastest member of our entire campaign team,” Burgum joked as he pointed to his scooter. “You can cover a lot of ground.”
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Burgum, a multimillionaire former software company CEO turned two-term governor who launched his presidential bid in June, has capitalized on his injury, as his campaign quickly started selling T-shirts with a cartoon icon a silhouette of Burgum, donning a cowboy hat, playing basketball wearing a cowboy boot on one foot and an ankle boot on the other foot.
“It’s been our bestseller so far,” the governor touted. “We also view it as a sign of support.”
Last week’s debate provided Burgum — who is little known outside of North Dakota — a chance to introduce himself to voters across the country. The governor spoke for nearly eight minutes at the showdown and mostly stayed out of the verbal crossfire between many of the other seven candidates on the stage.
“I think the message that we got out about economy, energy, national security, what we’re hearing from people is thank goodness someone’s talking about the issues that are affecting every American,” Bugum said. “We stayed above the fray, and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback from around the country because of that.”
Pointing to some of his rivals, Burgum argued, “every campaign gets to decide how they want to run their campaign and every candidate gets to decide how they want to exhibit leadership on a stage. But I know from my 30 years in the private sector that it never helped our customers, it never helped our team members, it never helped our vendors one iota if I as CEO was name-calling with a competitor. It doesn’t help anybody.”
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Burgum is now working toward qualifying for the second debate, a FOX Business-hosted showdown on Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
He has met the donor threshold of at least 50,000 donors, with 200 unique donors in 20 different states or territories. However, he is still working on reaching the polling criteria — hitting 3% in two national surveys, or 3% in one national poll as well as two surveys from the early voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.
“It’s just an interesting RNC rule to nationalize a contest this year,” Burgum argued. “It kind of takes away the power and influence of people in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Because when you start nationalizing it, that supports people that have held national office, have national name ID and causes someone like ours to divert time and resources away towards clearing clubhouse rule that isn’t really advancing the messaging in terms of how Republicans can beat Joe Biden in November 2024.”
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, arrives for a campaign event at Novel Iron Works in Greenland, New Hampshire, on Aug. 30, 2023. Burgum is using a scooter following a leg injury. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)
The governor got a boost on Wednesday as Best of America PAC, a Burgum-aligned super PAC, reserved $4 million to run ads on national cable television through Sept. 24, the day before the deadline to qualify for the second debate.
Burgum said the spots from the “unaffiliated PAC… should help us get our name recognition up.”
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He added the national ads will also allow him to continue to reach out to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“We’re just going to keep sticking to our plan and driving forward,” Burgum emphasized.