To win the Republican nomination for president in 2024, DeSantis must win over primary voters in Iowa. It’s the state with the earliest Republican caucuses in the country. But it won’t be a stroll in the park. The fact that DeSantis hasn’t formally announced his candidacy for president, Trump’s continued lead in the polls despite legal issues, and Trump and his friends’ ruthless undercutting of DeSantis with endorsements and caustic memos have all contributed to a decrease in DeSantis’s poll ratings.
While Trump was forced to reschedule his Iowa rally in Des Moines due to poor weather, DeSantis used the weekend to explain why he is the conservative who can take down Biden at events in Sioux Center and Cedar Rapids.
DeSantis attended the Feenstra Family Picnic hosted by Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) on Saturday. In a speech, he said it takes more than simply Republicans to win a significant election. He said at the end of the day, leadership is not about providing diversion. Being in office is not about making a name for oneself or engaging in social media posturing and virtue signaling. “It’s all about winning and getting results.”
Observers note that this was a direct shot by DeSantis toward Trump, who was defeated in 2020.
At the same time, he said the GOP “must reject the culture of losing that has infected our party in recent years.”
The two top Republicans in the GOP 2024 campaign, Trump and DeSantis, have not been afraid to bash one another to win over more of the party’s primary voters. The former president may be more concerned about the Florida governor’s nascent campaign than DeSantis is, even though DeSantis made covert references to Trump and did not mention his name during his speech.
DeSantis’s super PAC, Never Back Down, has spent seven figures on ads in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. As a further demonstration of the growing support for DeSantis in Hawkeye State, the group also released 37 endorsements from Iowa state Republicans.
Trump has a shaky track record in the Iowa caucuses. In 2016, he lost the Iowa caucuses to eventual nominee Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but in 2020, with few other candidates in the race, he won Iowa decisively.
As he tries to reclaim the leadership role, he must also win over those wary of giving him another chance because of his baggage.