Image source, Image caption, A Trump rally, at this point, is a political movement distilled into its purest form
The recent visit of Donald Trump in Iowa - a key state in the presidential nomination process - has fueled speculation that he is gearing up for a White House race in 2024. With a loving base and Republican politicians who bow to him, he is still a powerful force within the party. But while he feeds on presidential ambitions, he is not alone - and at least some conservatives are not fully on board..
There was a revealing moment at Donald Trump's rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday night. Around halfway through his two-hour speech, the former president invited Senator Chuck Grassley to take the stage and endorsed his next re-election campaign.
Grassley, at 88, is the most former Republican of the United States Senate. He was first elected to a public office when Dwight D Eisenhower was president. He has won his last four re-election campaigns with an average of 34% and has not faced a main Republican opponent since 1980.
If there is a Republican Party member who Shouldn't need Donald Trump's help to get re-elected, it's Chuck Grassley.
Image source, Image caption, The 88-year-old senator said it would be foolish of him not to ask for help from Mr. Trump
In January, Grassley - like many Republicans prominent - appeared to be on the verge of severing ties with Trump. He called the Jan.6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters an "attack on American democracy itself." In February, he issued a press releasedazzlingly saying that as he voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial for allegedly instigating the attack on Capitol 6, he condemned the then president's refusal to accept his defeat election and called his tongue "extreme, aggressive and irresponsible ".
But on a balmy October night, the Iowa senator bathed in the glow of the loyal crowd of the 'former president - and openly acknowledged exactly why he was doing it.
"I may have been born at night, but I was not born last night, " Grassley said. "So if I didn't take the endorsement of someone who has 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart.
Grassley cited a recent Des Moines Register poll showing Trump more popular in Iowa than he ever was during his presidency - and with almost universal support among Republican voters in the state. And the depth ofthis support was reflected in the list of speakers for the rally. Grassley was joined by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (also running for reelection next year) and two of three Republican members from Iowa in the House of Representatives.
"This is where Donald Trump has found much of his support, in alienated rural landscapes that feel like they are being ignored and forgotten by the powers that be in Washington " says Rachel Paine Caufield, professor of politics at Drake University in Des Moines.
Image source, Image caption, Trump Gear Sold Outside the Iowa Rally
"Donald Trump has always had a knack for talking to those insane voters, those people who feel like they are they were not listened to, rather than talking about them. "
After four years in the White House, and despite the electoral defeat and the unfolding of the last days of his presidency, these "insane voters " stay with their guy.
Un rasApparently Trump, at this point, is a political movement distilled into its purest form. This is the realm of flag-adorned vans, vendors selling obscene billboards headed to Biden, and Maga hat die-hards wearing T-shirts who claim Democrats stole the 2020 election, that vaccine warrants are the name of the game. dictatorship of the government and - perhaps most importantly - that Trump will be back in 2024.
"Miss me again? " read a large sign featuring the President's smiling face on the side. outside the exhibition center.
Inside the rally, the answer was an unequivocal yes.
"We really want him back, " said Shen Oah Hanson, who drove five hours from Wisconsin to attend his first rally. Trump. "He came from the same kind of people as us, so I really think he has a better voice than most of the other people in the office.
Hanson can make his wish come true. Trump has already hired two Iowa-based employees with campaign experience. His rallying speech, though dominated by complaints about the 2020 election and attacks on members of his own party, wasended with what looked like a campaign platform. He pledged actions on immigration, regulation of tech companies, the economy, veterans affairs and education. He even tested a new slogan, "Make America Great Again - Again ".
The Washington Post reported last week that Trump even considered announcing his offer in August, when Joe Biden walked away. mired in the revolt of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. He was ultimately convinced to wait until after next year's congressional midterm elections lest this vote turn into a referendum on his political renaissance and he risks being blamed if Republicans are not meeting expectations.
Image caption, Shenoah Hanson can't wait for Mr. Trump to officially throw his hat in the ring
If Trump plunges his toe once again into presidential politics, the prospect has not been universally welcomed outside the friendly boundaries of its rallies.
A a probeage Pew Research has found that while two-thirds of Republicans in the United States want Trump to remain a "major political figure," less than half want him to run for the Republican presidential nomination. third time.
This is what Jonathan Martin of New York Time called the Circonion "gold watch " - part of the party that wants to thank Trump for his services, then retire him with a shiny gift and a pat on the back.
It's a sentiment shared by Iowians like Josh Luedtke, a senior at the University of Iowa and a fellow of the College Republicans of the 'school.
"I think there are better options out there for the Republican Party," he said. "Yes, Donald Trump has done a lot of great things for our country. But he has also
If Trump is going to run again, he will have to convince people like Luedtke that he can win in 2024, says Bob Vander Plaats,a distinguished evangelical leader from Iowa.
"Its key is going to be, can I go beyond this base " he said. "Is Biden such a failed leader that, yes, we'll be back. And I would recommend that you focus on your accomplishments.
Image caption, Republicans could not vainonly to attack him from the right, says Bob Vander Plaats
Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader, has an opinion that carries considerable weight in the debate. 'State. He backed the eventual Republican winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2008, 2012, and 2016 (when Texas Senator Ted Cruz easily beat Trump).
He says there is has other attractive Republican presidential candidates m behind the scenes in Iowa including Former Vice President Mike Pence, Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They act like this is an open nomination contest, even though they're all on the right line between laying the groundwork for a future campaign and not putting it down. angry Trump or his supporters.
To be sure, there are reasons Trump could be sidelined in 2024. Although 'he managed to maintain a vigorous campaign schedule last year, his age - currently 75 - could turn one Then there are the criminal investigations into his New York businesses and his post-election pressures on election officials Georgia, which could present legal hurdles.
If Trump enters the race, says Vander Plaats, he should be able to clear most of the ground. But if someone like DeSantis or Pompeo stays in the game, things could get interesting.
"You are not going to beat Trump by attacking him from the left, ", he said. "The problem won't be that they're against Trump. The problem should be, we think we can win, and we have to win.
Of course, in 2016 there was many Republicans - a majority of primary voters, in fact - who did not support Trump's march to the party nomination. Trump won with a plurality,and he This time around he will have even bigger perks, including an established fundraising network, a more experienced campaign team, and a party hierarchy at state and country level which, unlike to 2016, is now filled with Trump followers.
"I think if Donald Trump wants the Republican nomination for 2024, he has a very good chance of being able to get that appointment, "says Caufield. Hold on on that basis, that makes him a really serious contender. "
The Biden presidency has only nine months. There are still more than three years until the next presidential election. -United A Successful Presidential campaign is a nearly billion-dollar, multi-year endeavor - and the road to the White House runs through Iowa.
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