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The Dartmouth
April 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth Political Union co-host North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

Burgum, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, discussed his campaign platform.

23F Burgum Event (Photo by Caroline Kramer)-40.jpg

On Oct. 12, the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and Dartmouth Political Union hosted Republican presidential candidate and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum as part of the “Path to the Presidency” speaker series. Rockefeller Center program officer Dvora Greenberg Koelling estimated that over 90 people attended the event, both in person and via Zoom. 

Burgum discussed his presidential campaign priorities — including improving the economy, bolstering energy and strengthening national security — and answered questions from the audience. Burgum also explained the strengths of his campaign and his inspirations. 

Burgum began by talking about his childhood. Growing up in a small town in North Dakota in a lower-class family, Burgum said he created a chimney-sweeping business while at North Dakota State University, which launched his entrepreneurial spirit and inspired him to pursue an MBA at Stanford University. 

Burgum explained that he began his career in the private sector, eventually becoming CEO of  Great Plains Software, a software accounting company, which he sold to Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1 billion. Burgum said he sees his experience at Great Plains Software as vital for his campaign.  

“Companies work every day to be better, smarter, faster the next day and that’s what we need … a business person that knows how to compete and win on a global scale,” he said.

Burgum said he decided to run in the 2016 North Dakota gubernatorial election because he felt content with his life professionally and financially and was hoping to give back to his community in public office. A political outsider, Burgum won the Republican primary in an upset before defeating his Democratic challenger in November by 57 points; he won his 2020 reelection by a similar landslide. 

On June 7, Burgum announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. After five months on the campaign trail, Burgum said he has developed a platform focused on the economy, energy and national security. 

Burgum explained that his platform vows to cut taxes, lower gas prices and reduce the cost of living. He has also promised to lower and control inflation.

“Inflation is this invisible tax it just reaches into your savings column,” Burgum said. “And while your balance may stay the same ... it leaves people in a position where they gotta work longer or work harder or defer plans that they might have for themselves or their children.”

Burgum’s business experience resonated well with some voters, according to Hanover resident Joan Collison, who attended the event. Collison said she wanted to conduct her own candidate research before the New Hampshire primary. 

“I came prepared to not agree with his policies but appreciate his values … and he is very compelling in that he has private sector and public sector experience,” Collison said. 

Burgum also listed innovation in energy as a cornerstone of his presidential platform, advocating for “innovation, not regulation.”

“We’re creating a series of policies we’re putting dependence on intermittent sources of energy,” Burgum said.  “Anybody that believes that [Biden’s] environmental policies are helping the environment, let’s have a discussion about system economics because it’s actually making the world less safe. It’s not helping the environment and it’s causing inflation at home.”

Motivated by his wife Katherine’s battle with addiction, Burgum said combating the country’s drug crisis would be a top priority during his tenure. 

He cited his efforts to destigmatize addiction as governor and said that national security plays a key role in addressing the country’s drug problem. Securing the southern border, Burgum explained, would reduce the flow of fentanyl and save lives from accidental overdoses. 

“We’re losing 300 people a day in our country to overdose,” Burgum said. “It doesn’t discriminate.” 

TJ Parekh ’24 said he found Burgum’s dedication to the destigmatization of addiction impressive. 

“I think that one of the biggest problems in America moving forward is mental health outcomes, but more particularly addiction … so seeing how he's able to apply that to national levels would be awesome,” Parekh said.

In state polling averages, Burgum has consistently placed seventh in New Hampshire and eighth in Iowa. In the past 50 years, the eventual Republican presidential nominee has always won at least one of those two contests. Burgum, however, said he sees his current dark horse position as an advantage. 

“We’re the least well-known in this race, but we are also the most well-liked candidate,” Burgum said. 

If his campaign receives the necessary publicity, Burgum said he believes he will be a strong candidate for the Republican nomination. 

“We’re gaining momentum every day … America loves an underdog,” he said.