donald trump He began a fall press conference on Wednesday to attract thousands of attendees to the Republican caucus in Iowa, where the former president faces very high expectations in his campaign to return to the White House.
Having campaigned much less frequently in Iowa than many of his 2024 rivals, Trump was making his first of five visits to Iowa planned through the end of October. The visits are aimed at turning what polls in Iowa show as a commanding lead into committed supporters and volunteers as the Trump campaign tries to secure a massive victory that would deny momentum to his rivals and effectively end the primary on caucus day.
"Less than four months from now, we're going to win the Iowa caucuses in a historic landslide," Trump predicted as he addressed a crowd of more than 1,000 people in the small town of Maquoketa and urged them to bring friends to the rally. January. 15 electoral assemblies.
The promised commitment of his team was shown organize better in Iowa than in 2016 when Trump finished in second place behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Supporters from across northeast Iowa had lined up outside the expo building at the Jackson County Fairgrounds hours before Trump's arrival. His campaign aimed to collect cards signed by the crowd pledging to support him in the January 15 caucuses. While the cards don't tie voters to a candidate, they provide campaigns with valuable contacts to get out the vote and recruit volunteers and precinct leaders.
Tables inside the room advertised the number to sign up to receive text messages from the campaign and screens showed the caucus schedule and how to participate.
Trump addressed his 2016 loss at the beginning of his speech, blaming his previous campaign team.
"They didn't do very well in the caucus and I learned a lot," Trump acknowledged, adding: "I don't like second place, though."
Maquoketa is a small city of about 6,000 people amid several rural counties in the heart of Iowa's eastern panhandle. In 2016, the region flipped from Democratic President Barack Obama to Trump.
At a second event in Dubuque, Trump confronted the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis , whom he has long treated as his top target, while touting his administration's efforts to help Iowa farmers and crack down on illegal immigration. At one point, Trump recited a poem he sometimes reads about a woman who invites a sick, frozen snake to her house, only to be bitten.
"That's what's happening in our country," he said.
Trump has visited Iowa seven times this year, headlining political and political events, and stopped by his campaign office in July. Trump has opted not to attend key multi-candidate events in Iowa organized by influential social conservative groups, an important bloc in the caucuses.
More recently, her events have been more like photo shoots, including a stop at an Iowa State fraternity house to throw footballs and shake hands before attending the university's football game in Ames against rival Iowa this month.
Before that, Trump drew crowds to the Iowa State Fair in August . She brought members of the Florida House of Representatives from Florida to bother DeSantis, who was visiting the fair earlier that day.
While Trump is ramping up his campaign, he still holds far fewer events in the state than several rivals.
DeSantis has committed to visiting all 99 counties in the state. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence and others have also campaigned aggressively in the state.
During a recent visit to Red Oak in western Iowa, DeSantis emphasized the disparity between Trump's visits and his own dozens of events in the state, saying "that just gives a sense of entitlement."
But no one has been able to overtake Trump, who remains the favorite for the Republican nomination even as he faces four separate indictments that have resulted in dozens of criminal charges.
“The truth is that Trump has a lasting lead in Iowa,” said Republican strategist David Kochel, an Iowa veteran and national Republican strategist who has advised on several presidential campaigns.
Trump has campaigned in Iowa more frequently than in other states vying for the early nomination.
“We don't take anything for granted. We are going to fight for every vote. That will be seen at every event,” said Trump spokesman Steven Cheung.
Tracie Kelly, a 48-year-old mother who homeschools her children, attended the event with her husband and family. After filling out his pledge card to caucus with Trump, Kelly called him “the right person to do the right thing.”
In particular, he highlighted the appointment of the three US Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump has refused to commit to pushing for a national abortion ban, drawing the ire of some social conservatives. But Kelly said that didn't bother him.
“He may not say the right things all the time, but he speaks for our beliefs,” he said.