Former President Donald Trump will return Monday to Iowa, the state that tops the Republican Party’s nomination calendar, for his journey since launching his third White House campaign in November.
The former president plans to roll out new education policies — with a big dose of culture wars mixed in — at an event at the Adler Theater in Davenport. That’s the city in southeastern Iowa along the Mississippi River where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off a jam-packed one-day swing through the state of Hawkeye on Friday.
The competing Trump and DeSantis events could be a split-screen preview of things to come as the Republican nomination battle heats up. While DeSantis will remain sidelined in 2024, his first-ever visit to the first state caucus was the clearest signal yet that he will likely launch a presidential campaign later this year after the conclusion of Florida’s current legislative session.
- Advertisement -
DeSantis – in nearly identical speeches in Davenport and later in Des Moines – praised his crusade on culture wars, reiterating “in the state of Florida we will fight the vigil in the legislature. We will fight the vigil in education. We will fight the vigil in the companies. We will never surrender to the vigil mob. Our state is where the vigil goes to die.”
DESANTIS MAKES FIRST EVER TRIP TO IOWA WHILE FLIRTING WITH 2024 RUN
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis addresses Iowa voters on March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The governor is currently touring the country to highlight his “Florida Blueprint” and promote his recently released memoir, “The Courage to Be Free.” And while he’s not a candidate, poll after poll shows he poses the biggest threat to Trump, who remains the most influential figure in the Republican Party and the frontrunner in the fast-growing field for GOP presidential nominations in 2024.
WHO’S IN IT AND WHO’S ON THE SIDELINES – YOUR GUIDE TO THE 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE
- Advertisement -
Prior to his own trip to Iowa, Trump took a page from his well-worn playbook and targeted DeSantis, taking to his social media page multiple times Friday while the Florida governor was in Iowa to criticize DeSantis.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, January 28, 2023, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP)
“No other president has been as PRO FARMER as I have been. Tell that to Ron DeSanctimonious when he shows up at your door, hat in hand. Tell him to go home!” Trump said on Truth Social, using one of his derogatory nicknames for the governor of Florida.
- Advertisement -
“Very small crowds for Ron DeSanctimonious in Iowa. He’s against farmers, Social Security, and Medicare, so why would people show up — except fake stories from the fake news!” Trump later wrote as he continued to attack DeSantis, who appeared to be leading the crowd. fill with a healthy crowd at its first stop in Davenport. The governor spent half an hour after the first event shaking hands, signing books and taking selfies with the enthusiastic crowd.
TRUMP AND DESANTIS NECK IN NEW POLL IN STATE STARTING GOP CALENDAR 2024
While DeSantis did not respond to any of Trump’s jabs, in his double speeches he once again described that his administration was running smoothly, which may be in contrast to the constant staff turnover during Trump’s four years in the White House.
“There is no drama in our government,” DeSantis said. “There is no palace intrigue.”
File photos of former President Donald Trump, left, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (Scott Eisen, Spencer Platt)
While in Iowa, DeSantis also met with a group of Republican state legislators in Des Moines and also held closed-door meetings with some GOP leaders. Sources in the governor’s broader political sphere say DeSantis advisers have reached out to several Republican operatives in Iowa about possibly joining the governor’s team, but no decisions have been made to date.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Trump already has a leadership team in Iowa, including Eric Branstad. The son of the former Iowa governor, who was ambassador to the Trump administration and served as state director of Trump’s 2020 reelection, is back as a senior adviser for the 2024 campaign.
And Republican sources in the state say Trump and his team reached out ahead of his visit, urging GOP officials and leaders to once again support the former president.
Paul Steinhauser is a political reporter from New Hampshire.