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Just One Republican Fascist Spoke In Iowa Yesterday-- God Chased Trump Away With A Tornado

Hours before DeSantis’ much heralded trip to Iowa to headline Randy Feenstra’s annual Family Picnic in Sioux Center yesterday, the Washington Post ran a piece by Hannah Knowles, DeSantis Seeks Rebound As He And Trump Hold Dueling Events In Iowa. But even before that 37 Republican state legislators endorsed DeSantis, including Senate President Amy Sinclair, Senate Majority Whip Waylon Brown, House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, House Speaker John Willis, House Majority Whip Henry Stone, House Assistant Majority Leader Jon Dunwell and former Speaker Brent Siegrist. Windschitl: “We need a leader that’s looking forward towards the future, not a leader that’s looking in the rearview mirror and potentially going to be vindictive towards other people. We need somebody that’s accountable to the people that has proven in their state that they can do this job and take that same prosperity and spread it throughout America.”

Also before Knowles’ piece was published a new poll of likely Iowa GOP caucus goers from National Research came out. If it’s accurate, it bodes poorly for Meatball Ron. They favor Trump over DeSantis 44% to 26%, with 6% of Haley, 4% for Pence, 3% for Ramaswarmy, 1% for Tim Scott and 1% for Asa Hutchinson. And in a head to head matchup with all the other candidates gone, Trump leads 45-33%. Trump’s rally yesterday in Des Moines was cancelled due to tornado warnings (or, more likely, because Trump knew he was going to have a small turnout). Awwwww...

Just DeSantis, who will officially launch his campaign next month, was in Iowa yesterday, warning about Trump's culture of losing. “Trump,” wrote Knowles, “is positioning himself as the inevitable nominee but has to contend with renewed GOP questions about his electability after a New York jury found him liable for defamation and sexual abuse… DeSantis and his backers are trying to recapture the momentum he had earlier in the year— pitching donors on the governor’s ability to beat Biden in swing states, working to counter the endorsements Trump has already lined up and taking sharper swings at the former president still beloved by much of the GOP.”

The challenge of criticizing Trump while also courting his voters was clear this past week as a pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, ramped up its attacks, drawing some rebukes from vocal DeSantis supporters on social media. Responding to Trump’s CNN town hall, the PAC and its staff took aim at Trump’s handling of issues important to the GOP base: guns, abortion and a southern border wall. It also highlighted his time spent talking about the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob; his false claims the 2020 election was rigged; and his defense of comments about how famous men can carry out unwanted sexual advances.
DeSantis gave his most direct response to some of Trump’s attacks last week, telling Newsmax that Trump is employing Democratic talking points on his record on Social Security. But so far he’s stayed away from Never Back Down’s blunter attack lines. “We aren’t afraid to set the record straight and push back on false attacks from potential opponents who are scared of facing the Governor should he jump in the race,” Never Back Down communications director Erin Perrine said in a statement.
The governor has been hosting a steady stream of supporters and potential supporters in Tallahassee in what one person familiar with the meetings likened to the “George W. Bush front porch strategy”— when politicians flocked to Texas to sit down with then-governor Bush ahead of his presidential run. In Iowa, Senate President Amy Sinclair and Iowa House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl endorsed DeSantis just ahead of his visit, headlining a list of more than three dozen state lawmakers throwing their support behind the governor, according to Never Back Down.
Trump is well ahead in national primary polling. Still, the CNN town hall this week showcased the kinds of comments that galvanize Trump’s base but risk alienating swing voters, as the former president declined to back Ukraine over Russia, claimed the consequences of a default on the national debt “could be maybe nothing” and dismissed this week’s jury finding on sexual abuse.
Trump’s team has pressed its advantage to rack up endorsements before DeSantis is officially in the race, locking down the support of much of the Republican congressional delegation from Florida— including a longtime DeSantis ally, Rep. Byron Donalds, and another congressman who said DeSantis has been unresponsive to his outreach.
Trump’s campaign and allies at his super PAC have been highlighting more supportive statements this week, from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R)— who said on Fox News that he’s confident Trump can win the election— to Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of a national antiabortion group, who said she had a “terrific meeting” with Trump.
The former president has also attacked DeSantis relentlessly, deploying nicknames, calling him disloyal and seeking to link him to GOP establishment figures. In a video posted Friday to Truth Social, Trump said DeSantis “needs a personality transplant.”
The governor’s team feels that Trump’s onslaught “may be hurting his head to head numbers but it’s not really hurting his favorability numbers,” said one attendee at a recent dinner with DeSantis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. They added, “They’re gonna counterpunch when they think it makes sense… They’re not anti-Trump.”
DeSantis allies are hoping things turn around when DeSantis officially jumps in. His advisers have been reminding donors that it’s early in the race, laying out plans to spend particular time in Iowa and New Hampshire and noting that national polls don’t capture the dynamics in early primary states, according to people who joined the governor and his team in Tallahassee recently for small-group dinners and briefings. DeSantis’s team has long estimated privately that some 30 percent of Republican voters will back Trump no matter what but expressed optimism they can lead among the rest, people who’ve spoken with them say.
“I just think too much of America has made up its mind on the former president and they’re gonna be ready to turn the page,” argued Bob Vander Plaats, an Iowa evangelical leader who wields major influence in the caucuses. He had lunch in Florida this week with DeSantis and his wife, Casey DeSantis.
When a recent CBS News poll asked likely Republican primary voters what they wanted in a nominee if it isn’t Trump, 37 percent said they wanted a candidate who shows loyalty to Trump, while another 56 percent wanted a candidate who simply doesn’t talk about him.
DeSantis will start Saturday at a picnic in Sioux Center, Iowa, hosted by Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA). Prominent Republicans from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg to Sen. Joni Ernst and state Attorney General Brenna Bird are expected to attend.
Then the Florida governor will zip across the state to Cedar Rapids, where he is headlining a regional fundraiser for the Iowa GOP. Kauffman, the party chair, will be asking him questions and said he’s eager to get personal with the governor— who some Republicans have criticized as scripted or standoffish.
“I know we’ve been told to give time for him to interact,” Kaufmann said, adding that as an interviewer he has a “reputation for bringing out some real human moments in these folks.”
Saturday evening will be a side-by-side of sorts as Trump holds his event in Des Moines. The dynamics of the presidential race have changed significantly since Trump and DeSantis nearly crossed paths in Iowa two months ago, as Trump appeared more vulnerable and the Florida governor was just starting his book tour.
“People ask me, am I paying attention to the polls … I think right now those are all meaningless,” said Bill Stern, a former state finance chair for Trump in South Carolina who is now backing DeSantis. He said of DeSantis, “Let’s give him time and let him prove himself.”

In his advice to DeSantis column yesterday, Ross Douthat wrote “the most basic lesson to be drawn by Republican politicians from watching Trump’s town hall is the importance, for any would-be Trumpian successor, of demonstrating that you too can engage with the mainstream press and come away a winner. This is the core of Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential strategy so far, which has lifted him to nearly Mike Pence-ian levels of support in primary polls in part because of his willingness to argue with Chuck Todd or Don Lemon, not just rattle off talking points on Hannity. But it’s the opposite of the DeSantis method, which has been to stiff-arm the mainstream media (with a side of mockery from his friends and allies on Twitter). That’s fine for the governor of a rightward-trending state trying to get things done locally and build support with conservative activists. But it’s not what Republican voters actually seem to want from their national champions. They want the show, the battle, the drama. And you can’t really own the libs, in the end, if you won’t even take their questions.”

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