September 24, 2023

Condemning a Republican “culture of defeatism”, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sought to weaken former President Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican Party on Saturday, as tornado warnings disrupted a clash of key presidential prospects in battleground Iowa.

DeSantis, who is expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign any day now, briefly flipped burgers and pork chops at an afternoon picnic fundraiser at the Sioux Center, which drew about 100 conservatives to the northwest corner of the state. Did.

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From the podium, the 44-year-old governor highlighted his eagerness to embrace conservative cultural quirks and sprinkled his remarks with indirect jabs at Trump.

“Governing is not about entertainment. Governing is not about building a brand or talking and virtue signaling on social media,” said DeSantis, who wore a blue button-down shirt without a tie or jacket. “It’s ultimately about winning and delivering results.”

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Trump, a candidate since November, was expected to demonstrate his political prowess later in the day with a large outdoor rally in Des Moines, the capital. He canceled the appearance hours before his scheduled time due to a tornado warning. Around 200 supporters had already gathered at the venue.

“I think it’s still Trump time,” said Robert Bushard, 76, who said he drove about four hours from St. Paul, Minnesota, to see the former president. About DeSantis, he said, “He will be a good president after Trump.”

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Republican primary voters across the country are shaping up on DeSantis and Trump, two Republican powerhouses who are among a half-dozen GOP candidates already in the race or expected to announce soon.

Trump is well ahead of his rivals in early national polls, while DeSantis is widely seen as the strongest potential challenger.

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Trump was expected to return to the rest of the campaign phase after a week off.

On Tuesday, a civil jury in New York found her liable for sexual assault and defamation of advice columnist E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million. A day later, during a controversial CNN town hall, he repeatedly insulted Carroll, lied about his 2020 election loss, and downplayed violence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

DeSantis has burned his reputation as a conservative governor willing to push hard for conservative policies and even fight a political battle with Disney, which he exposed at the Sioux Center. But so far, he hasn’t shown the same enthusiasm for taking on Trump, who for months has been almost singularly focused on dismantling DeSantis.

On Saturday, DeSantis avoided Trump’s legal entanglements or his lies about the 2020 election, instead highlighting the GOP’s recent electoral losses. The Republican Party has struggled in every national election since Trump’s 2016 victory.

“We must reject the culture of defeatism that has plagued our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over,” DeSantis said. “If we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or other issues, I think the Democrats will beat us again.”

It is uncertain whether DeSantis’ political successes in Florida can be replicated on the national stage. Even before formally entering the race, he is already facing questions about his ability to court donors and woo voters.

The trip to Iowa, his second in two months, was expected to help address concerns about his sometimes awkward personal appeal as he met with Republican officials, donors and volunteers under the glare of the national media.

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But DeSantis devoted little time — at least compared to the GOP’s other White House contenders — to selfies or handshakes at the Sioux Center, where more than 600 people gathered to watch him meet US Rep. was billed as a family picnic. Feenstra.

DeSantis left most of the politics to his affiliated Super Political Action Committee, which set up a table where potential supporters for his yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign could sign up.

There were signs from the DeSantis 2024 campaign on the side of the road outside the museum.

Trump’s team expected more than 5,000 to attend the rally at an outdoor amphitheater in downtown Des Moines aimed at gathering information on supporters and encouraging them to commit to Trump.

Trump’s 2024 Iowa campaign, unlike his rip-tag 2016 second-place Iowa effort, is putting together a more disciplined, data-driven operation. The purpose of Saturday’s event was to encourage attendees to sign up with the campaign on a website so that the campaign could keep in touch with them, inform them of how and where to caucus, and recruit campaign volunteers. Could

In a social media post, Trump promised to reschedule the event. Shortly afterward, the campaign released a list of endorsements from more than 150 Iowa elected officials and workers from all 99 counties in the state.

And as they compete for endorsements, the budding rivalry with DeSantis has become increasingly personal.

DeSantis has largely ignored Trump’s most egregious attacks, including suggesting impropriety with young girls as a teacher decades ago, questioning his sexuality and calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

Trump’s campaign began airing an ad mocking DeSantis for pushing himself for the former president in 2018, using some Trump catchphrases to his supporters when he was in Florida, even that some Trump was using catchphrases.

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Trump’s super PAC, MAGA Inc., has also aired spots highlighting DeSantis’ votes to cut Social Security and Medicare and raise the retirement age. The group also targeted DeSantis’ snacking habits, running an ad asking him to keep his “pudding fingers” away from those benefits. This was a reference to a report by The Daily Beast that the governor had eaten chocolate pudding with his fingers instead of a spoon on a plane several years earlier. DeSantis has said that he does not remember doing so.

At the same time, Never Back Down, a pro-DeSantis super PAC, has hired an Iowa staffer and begun trying to organize support for the governor ahead of the 2024 announcement.

The group announced Thursday that State Senate President Amy Sinclair and State House Majority Leader Matt Windchitel would support DeSantis’ candidacy. On Friday, it brought down nearly three dozen more state lawmakers who would support him.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst attended DeSantis’ Sioux Center appearance.

After his speech, he spent about 15 minutes shaking hands and making small talk with voters as he maneuvered through a large audience of reporters, TV cameras and a security detail. He then dashed outside to pose with Reynolds and Fenestra while turning to burgers and pork chops on the grill.

Rock Valley’s Lyle and Sonia Remarde manage to shake hands. He added that DeSantis’ style is “generic”.

“When you compare Trump and DeSantis, I think DeSantis has a — how do you say? — a much more relaxed approach,” said 65-year-old Lyle Remerde. “That’s less abrasive.”