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Trump insulted his governor and could be impeached again. they love him

As forks and knives clinked over plates of chicken and mashed potatoes at the state GOP’s annual Lincoln dinner, Trump’s reception was a demonstration of the reality that continues to haunt the rest of the Republican presidential field: They apparently don’t apply conventional rules of politics.

“There’s only one candidate, and you know who that candidate is, to get the job done,” Trump said to applause. And the room laughed when he cited a poll showing Ron DeSantis losing in a matchup with Joe Biden, warning that he “wouldn’t risk it.”

Trump’s recent blow to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, her insinuation that she owes him her seat in office and her declaration that she is not invited to his events, rattled some establishment GOP figures in Iowa. One state senator switched his endorsement from Trump to DeSantis. A former Iowa GOP co-chair said he would work against Trump. Two separate groups began running television ads, replaying Trump’s words about Reynolds.

However, his public poll average in the state remains more than 30 points ahead of his nearest rival.

“There’s such a large crowd that can’t seem to make much headway against Trump, and DeSantis is falling behind in their support,” said Donald Bohlken, a Warren County GOP central committeeman who plans to form a Trump caucus . “Ron DeSantis is a good man. Frankly, I think all these people are good and interesting, but it’s going to be hard for them to beat Donald Trump.”

Trump, unusually, gave only a 9-minute speech, staying under the strict 10-minute limit that all candidates here had to meet. Although the crowd was more subdued than at a MAGA rally, and he had to do without his standard song “God Bless the USA,” Trump still got the loudest response of the night.

But while he maintained his status Friday as the most magnetic figure in the Republican Party and the favorite in the 2024 primary, another race was underfoot. It was a battle for the spotlight between DeSantis and Tim Scott.

As the Florida governor roamed rural Iowa working frantically to revive his limping campaign, the South Carolina senator retreated and enjoyed the throngs of supporters who gathered to hear him at a town hall Thursday outside Des Moines, an event that coincided with his recent bump in the polls.

Scott is among the lowest-polling candidates closing in on DeSantis as DeSantis’ campaign has launched a “reset,” firing nearly a third of its staff.

“I think among those … who have very low name recognition right now, whoever wins among that group will be able to declare some degree of victory,” Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in an interview. acknowledging Trump’s continued strength ahead of the caucuses. “I can tell you for sure this year, there will be three entries out of Iowa.”

If DeSantis lands one of those innings and becomes viable again in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it appears to be in question.

With media and donor attention ready to catch any misstep, DeSantis, once solidly in second place, is now the most vulnerable in the field. Cash woes have forced his campaign to downsize from a sprawling team to a significantly smaller operation, while his trip to Iowa this week featured slightly more low-key events than his past trips and a focus in their controversies.

Riding a bus from the county fair to the meat processing facility to a cafeteria on a packed five-stop bus route, DeSantis supported his state’s new school curriculum that proclaims the African-American slaves’ skilled labor could be harnessed for their “personality.” benefit,” criticized a black congressman in his state who called for it to be changed.

Meanwhile, Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, held a packed town hall where he later took a jab at DeSantis, declaring that “there is nothing favorable … about slavery” and asking DeSantis to clarify your comments.

DeSantis responded by insinuating that Scott is part of a DC establishment that “very often accepts false narratives — accepts lies perpetrated by the left.”

Determined to regain strength in early candidate states, DeSantis, who has slipped from the solid lead he once had over his lower-polling rivals, this week engaged in the kind of low-key retail politics that political observers don’t do. they very much doubted what he would do. to hug. The stops were planned and organized by the super PAC supporting him, Never Back Down, which has played an outsized role in DeSantis’ ground game, now increasingly so as his own campaign enacts cuts.

He shook hands at the Wayne County Fair. He visited a veteran’s organization, where he was greeted not by a crowd of supporters but by a dozen advocates who wanted to talk to him, in detail, about his infrared light machine and other experimental therapies to help the veterans

“We will continue working. We’re not entitled to anything,” DeSantis told reporters inside the veteran’s residence in the small town of Albia. “All I’m saying is I’m going to work everybody and we’re going to win the support.”

On this trip, DeSantis said, his campaign has seen “a group of people who are already committed to caucus for us … a really significant number of people.”

“He did amazing,” said Sue Miller of Oskaloosa, among those who packed the large dining area of ​​Smokey Row Coffee, just off the town square, to hear DeSantis speak Friday afternoon. Miller’s face lit up as he gave a review of the DeSantis town hall event. But she said she remains torn between supporting Trump, and thinks Scott “sounds good, too.”

“I would like him to stay four more years in Florida and then run for president,” Miller said. “But we need him.”

At Scott’s town hall Thursday in Ankeney, several attendees said in interviews that they came after being intrigued by his television ads. Scott’s campaign has already spent more than $2 million on TV ads in Iowa alone, while a super PAC supporting him has booked $17 million worth of ads in the state through the 15 caucuses of January, and additional millions in New Hampshire and South Carolina, significantly. reduce the spending plans of any other campaign or outside group. It’s a sign that Scott, whose aides and opponents acknowledge he still has room to grow in name recognition, could continue to benefit from his strong paid media strategy.

“When I see his commercials on TV … I mean, he’s just talking straight, common sense to people,” Reynolds said while speaking before him at his event. “And we really appreciate that.”

Outside of Trump, DeSantis, Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy drew the strongest reactions from the Lincoln Dinner crowd.

The responses from the crowd Friday at the 13-candidate dinner were not a scientific measure of each candidate’s position in the state. But as much as he captured the enthusiasm — or lack thereof — for a new face in the Republican Party, the outlook remains bleak for anyone not named Trump.

The audience gave polite applause to almost everyone who spoke, even cheering on some of their words. But candidates with big national profiles, like Nikki Haley and Mike Pence who, if not for Trump, might have been the frontrunners in the 2024 GOP primaries, got only polite applause.

Chris Christie, Trump’s main critic in the primaries, skipped the Lincoln dinner, the strategy he is using for the entire state of Iowa, choosing instead to focus on more moderate Republicans in New Hampshire. So when Will Hurd, the longtime GOP congressman running for president, tried to fill that void, he experienced the wrath of a party that still reveres Trump.

“Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again. Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people who voted for him in 2016 and 2020,” Hurd said to boos from a crowd that d otherwise he had been cordial with everyone. “Donald Trump Runs to Stay Out of Jail”.

The mockery became deafening.

“I know, I know. I know. I know. I know,” Hurd continued as the crowd erupted at him. “The truth is hard. But if we elect Donald Trump, we will willingly give Joe Biden four more years in the White House, and America cannot do that.”

The boos continued as he left the stage.


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