As he runs for the White House for a third time, former President Donald Trump appears to be embracing a campaign tradition he mostly avoided during his first two presidential campaigns: petty retail politics.
While Trump was known for his large rallies during his successful 2016 presidential campaign and his failed reelection in 2020, he rarely made small stops to talk to voters at restaurants, diners, coffee shops and fast food chains.
During his trip to Iowa last week — his first trip to the state that tops the GOP presidential election calendar since the launch of his 2024 White House campaign in mid-November — Trump’s large-scale event at Davenport’s Adler Theater and his remarks targeting likely rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made headlines.
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Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on Monday, March 13, 2023 in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ron Johnson) (AP)
But just as telling of his campaign was his unannounced stop prior to the rally to a Machine Shed restaurant, a popular chain in the state of Hawkeye, where he mingled with customers.
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Last month, after visiting the scene of a train derailment in eastern Palestine, Ohio, Trump stopped at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant.
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And after his campaign kickoff in South Carolina on Jan. 28, the former president—whose love of fast food is well documented—surprised employees and customers alike when he stopped by Zesto in West Columbia, a restaurant known for its fried chicken, burgers, and chocolate chips. dipped ice cream cones.
Trump 2024 campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told Fox News: “Visits like these attract a lot of attention, not just in terms of media but social media as well. But we are still going to have rallies. This is not something instead of meetings.”
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“It’s just another tool in the toolbox for getting the president out there, meeting people face-to-face and interacting with them,” Cheung stressed.
Trump announced this week that he would hold a large-scale rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25 — and his campaign said on Saturday that any potential indictment from the Manhattan district attorney’s office would not disrupt those plans.
Paul Steinhauser is a political reporter from New Hampshire.