In the coming weeks, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will each go to Iowa for the first time this year as the 2024 campaign gets underway.
Two aides to Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because they were not authorized to preempt DeSantis’ announcement confirmed that DeSantis had scheduled events for March 10 to promote his new book, “The Courage to be Free,” in the eastern Iowa city of Davenport and the state capital, Des Moines.
The former president will make his first trip to Iowa since he began his 2024 campaign in November on March 13, according to a statement from Trump’s team on Thursday.
“It’s going from ground zero to the moon,” said Gloria Mazza, the Republican party chair in Polk County, Iowa’s most populous county. It certainly excites us.
DeSantis has not yet declared himself a contender, but his trip represents a big step for the governor, who has established himself as a leading challenger to Trump.
He has mainly been content up until this point to spearhead conservative cultural battles on cable TV and from the Florida statehouse, where he is concentrating on advancing his rightward agenda during the legislative session that lasts until May.
The two leading Republicans would move closer toward head-to-head competition thanks to the strategically timed visits to Iowa.
Trump’s criticism of the governor on social media and use of derogatory monikers have increased as he sees DeSantis as a greater threat in recent months.
DeSantis, for his part, stated last month in response to inquiries on one such Trump jab that he does not spend his time “trying to defame other Republicans.”
Trump attended events in the early voting states of South Carolina and New Hampshire last month, and his visit to Iowa this month will mark his first trip there as a confirmed 2024 candidate.
After placing second in the 2016 Iowa caucuses to win the Republican presidential nomination and winning Iowa by sizable percentages in the 2016 and 2020 general elections, he would be under pressure to perform well there the following year.
Republican presidential candidates have flocked to Iowa recently and are preparing for additional visits after a relatively quiet start to the year.
Having made her candidacy announcement last month, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley visited Iowa in late February.
She will be back next week to host two town hall meetings and participate in a foreign policy event with Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in Des Moines.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, thinking about running, rallied conservative parents in the state last month in opposition to a gender-affirming policy in an eastern Iowa school district that is the subject of federal litigation. On March 18, Pence is anticipated back in Iowa.
This week, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a likely 2024 candidate, visited the Des Moines area to speak at Drake University and to serve as the keynote speaker for a Polk County Republican Party fundraiser.