"I think on some issues, especially navigating some tough economic waters he inherited, he is doing better than people are giving him credit for," she explained. "But on some of the other issues, I don't think he did a good job. I think the leadership could be stronger."
Herseth-Sandlin is in fact making a campaign platform out of being willing to stand-up to the leadership in Washington, calling herself an independent, moderate voice for South Dakota.
"I've worked very hard the last six years to do what's right for South Dakota. I opposed the bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry," Herseth-Sandlin told ABC News.
Noem said Herseth-Sandlin's voting record doesn't distance her from the Democratic leadership at all, particularly, "when you really start looking and pointing out her voting record and the fact that she is voting with Nancy Pelosi 9 out of 10 times, "Noem said.
Noem said a vote for Herseth-Sandlin is a vote for Pelosi for Speaker of the House. Herseth-Sandlin fired back that John Boehner "is no picnic for South Dakota either."
Herseth-Sandlin said she does not regret standing by Speaker Pelosi in voting for the economic stimulus.
"Now look, it was hard vote," Herseth-Sandlin told ABC News. "No one wanted to go into a new Congress with a new President and have to pass an emergency measure to stabilize an economy that was out of control and hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of jobs."
Herseth-Sandlin may have a hard time explaining that kind of spending to a state with only 4.4% unemployment. The only state with a lower rate of unemployment is neighboring North Dakota, holding steady at 3.6%.
Recently, controversy in the race has centered not on the economy, but Noem's driving record, which became an issue when KELO-TV reported that she has had 20 speeding tickets and other traffic violations in the past two decades, and two warrants were issued for her arrest for failures to appear in court. Noem's most recent speeding ticket was in January when she was clocked going 94 mph on Interstate 90.
While Noem says she is "not proud" of her driving record, Herseth-Sandlin has drilled down on the issue, calling it a "question of judgment."
"I think that it indicates that she doesn't deem it necessary to abide by the limits that everyone else tries to abide by," Herseth-Sandlin told ABC News. "If you can't responsibly take care of your own business, I think it calls into question the level of responsibility you take in other matters."