This week, Nikki Haley is visiting Iowa shortly after declaring her candidacy for president. Sen. Tim Scott, a fellow Republican from South Carolina, will also be present as he decides his political future.
Moreover, a former vice president, Mike Pence, recently courted influential evangelical Christian leaders in the region.
Republican candidates are pouring into the state, hosting the first presidential caucus after a lackluster start. Donald Trump, a previous president, is noticeably missing from the lineup—at least temporarily.
Few candidates for the White House are subject to Donald Trump’s high expectations in Iowa. He came in second to ardent social conservative Ted Cruz in the 2016 election but won the state twice with sizable margins as the Republican nominee for president in 2016 and 2020.
This individual is genuinely unable to try to control these expectations.
They are huge. They are self-made, according to Luke Martz, a seasoned Republican strategist from Iowa who assisted Mitt Romney with his 2012 campaign for the Iowa caucuses. “I don’t understand how someone claiming to be the guy can enter and even finish in second place.”
Trump has not visited Iowa, the first state where his claim to party supremacy will be tested early in the following year, three months after he declared his attempt at a return.
Yes, Trump is actively campaigning in Iowa. Alex Latcham, a member of Trump’s national team stationed in the state, has been attempting to hire a director for the caucus campaign. Yet on January 28, Trump staged a kickoff event in South Carolina, where his victory in the GOP primary that year cemented his position as the front-runner.
And earlier that day, in New Hampshire, where he also won the first-in-the-nation primary seven years earlier, he managed to cram in a speaking engagement at the state GOP gathering.
Despite being almost a year away, the Iowa caucuses are still the first event on the calendar, and some GOP activists in Iowa have noticed Trump’s absence.
Trump’s stops in South Carolina and New Hampshire, according to Gloria Mazza, chairwoman of the Polk County GOP, “I thought that extremely interesting.” Doesn’t everyone come here first because Iowa is first in the country? ”
Others are making progress in the meantime.
Pence’s lobbying group Advancing American Values launched a campaign this week to coordinate opposition to school policies like one in an eastern Iowa district that has been a hot topic among conservatives, even though he is not yet a candidate.
On Wednesday, Pence was in Cedar Rapids rallying opposition to a Linn-Mar Community School District policy subject to a federal lawsuit.
An approach allowing transgender adolescents to request a gender support plan to start socially transitioning at school without their parent’s consent was adopted by the school board last year.
The topic, a primary concern for Republican presidential candidates in 2024, is incredibly divisive among Religious conservatives, with whom Pence frequently claims to identify.
Pence demonstrated its appeal at the event on Wednesday at a pizzeria, which had the feel of a pre-caucus campaign visit.
Pence declared before a jubilant crowd of over 100 people, “We don’t co-parent with the government.” “We rely on parents to safeguard their children because nobody else will ever protect America’s children better than their moms and dads.”
On Monday and Tuesday, Haley will hold rallies in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids regions. Before appearing at the annual Polk County Republican fundraiser in a suburb of Des Moines that evening, Scott is scheduled to speak at an event at Drake University on Wednesday as part of what his advisers call a nationwide listening tour intended to shape his plans.
Former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson, who visited Iowa in January and spoke with legislative Republicans at the Capitol in Des Moines and Republican activists in western Iowa last week, is quietly making progress.
Although several potential contenders, including Trump, were in Iowa last year to support midterm candidates, it’s crucial to consider these initial reactions as the GOP presidential race gets underway.
Particularly now that many Republicans are waiting to see whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proceeds with a White House bid.
But even with more contenders entering the race in the coming months, Trump still has a solid base of Republican support that may be difficult to shake.
According to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Survey conducted in October, 57% of Iowa Republicans said they hoped Trump would decide to run for president in 2024, while 33% said they hoped he wouldn’t, and 10% said they weren’t sure.
According to Steve Scheffler, a member of the Iowa Republican National Committee, “there will always be a group who will back him whatever.” Yet more and more people wish to test the waters before making a choice. That is what allows others to enter.