Former President Donald Trump is returning to Iowa on Saturday, just eight weeks before the January 15 Iowa Republican caucuses, continuing his aggressive campaign in the Hawkeye State in an attempt to quell any possibility that one of his rivals could catch up to him.
Trump’s team says they’re heading into this final stretch feeling confident in his standing, pointing to his continued dominance in Iowa polls, a Trump adviser told CNN. A recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll found 43% of likely Republican caucusgoers picking Trump as their first choice, with his closest rivals receiving just 16%.
The other GOP presidential candidates have also been hitting the ground relentlessly in Iowa as the caucuses draw nearer. On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy converged in Des Moines for an event hosted by a prominent evangelical Christian organization.
Trump notably chose to skip the evangelical Christian forum. Although he was invited, he opted instead to host an event in Fort Dodge on Saturday, a move in line with his snubs of other gatherings over the course of the campaign, including the three GOP presidential primary debates so far.
His absence posed an opportunity for his rivals to attack him on Friday night.
DeSantis, whose campaign has pursued an all-out strategy in the state in the hopes that a potential Iowa win could build enough momentum to carry him through the other primaries, called Trump’s candidacy “high risk with low reward.”
“As a lame duck with poor personnel and the distractions, it’s going to be hard for him to get this done,” DeSantis said. “My candidacy is lower risk because we’ll run Biden ragged around this country, but high reward because you get a two-term conservative president who’s going to stand for your values and deliver for you for eight full years.”
At recent Iowa rallies, Trump has used his remarks to take shots at his primary opponents — especially DeSantis. The former president has repeatedly attacked Desantis’ record on energy policy, a top concern of corn farmers there.
The former president has also focused much of his Iowa remarks on preventing foreign influences from undermining American manufacturing jobs, a message Trump’s campaign argues will resonate with voters in Fort Dodge, a city that is home to major national trucking companies.
Additionally, Trump has ramped up his increasingly vitriolic rhetoric against President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party as he attempts to paint the 2024 race as a general election rematch.
During a New Hampshire rally last weekend, Trump vowed to “root out” the political left and characterized the “radical left” as “thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” Those comments received a wave of backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike, including many of his GOP primary rivals.