The competition between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis intensifies, as the former president plans a trip to Iowa on the same day that the governor of Florida will be there, in the state where the Republican race for the candidacy for the White House begins.
A Trump campaign official said the former president plans to travel to Iowa on May 13 to headline an event at a large park in downtown Des Moines. DeSantis already had plans, for that day, to speak at Rep. Randy Feenstra's annual fundraiser in the northeast of the state and then at a partisan rally in Cedar Rapids.
A Trump aide said the May 13 event had been planned for weeks.
It is a sign that the competition is heightening between the two men who, for now, are the favorites in the polls to win the Republican nomination. Trump and his allies have escalated their attacks to sideline DeSantis, who has yet to officially announce his candidacy but is expected to do so once he wraps up the Florida legislature next week.
But Trump's trip is also notable for emphasizing grassroots organizing that is vital in Iowa and to which he failed to engage during his 2016 campaign, when Texan Sen. Ted Cruz defeated him in the state caucuses. The campaign official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in anticipation of the announcements, said the goal of the Des Moines rally was to identify and organize supporters and volunteers ahead of the caucuses.
Trump has focused almost exclusively on attacks on DeSantis, his positions on entitlements, his loyalty to conservative causes and even his character. DeSantis has largely ignored Trump's taunts, though his backing political action committee, Never Back Down, has begun responding with paid advertising.
The stakes are high for both of them in Iowa, where the February caucuses give them a chance to cement themselves at the top of the party. Instead, a poor performance would mean an opportunity for other candidates to step up.