Former President Donald Trump took the spotlight at the Iowa State Fair this weekend, swooping atop his private plane as his leading Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, flipping pork chops and greeting potential GOP caucus-goers.
The 2024 Republican presidential race is playing out in close quarters as Trump and DeSantis join thousands.
For DeSantis, the day was filled with the traditions that have made the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines a quintessential stop on the presidential campaign trail since the Democratic Party moved the state to the first position on its nominating calendar. in 1972 and the Republicans did the same. transfer four years later. (Democrats this year are shaking up the array of states for their nomination contest.)
Trump bucked tradition — but still drew large crowds, underscoring the support the former president maintains among the GOP base even as he faces what could be his fourth impeachment in the coming days. Trump’s legal troubles have dominated the Republican primary for months, with the former president casting his accusations as politically motivated and often using them at fundraisers.
Trump traveled to Iowa with an entourage mostly designed by troll DeSantis. It consists of members of Congress from Florida who endorsed Trump for governor in their state: Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast, Cory Mills, Anna Paulina Luna, Greg Steube and Mike Waltz.
Flyers seemingly jabbing at DeSantis’ record on agriculture were passed around the fairgrounds as the Florida governor grilled pork chops on Saturday. “Iowa pork is delicious and gives nearly 1 in 10 working Iowans a job, but Ron DeSantis would be an absolute disaster for Iowa,” the flyer said.
It’s unclear whether paid staffers or Trump campaign volunteers passed out the fliers. At least one person who approached CNN had a MAGA hat and the flyer said it was paid for by “Donald J. Trump for President 2024, INC.”
Upon arriving at the fair, Trump greeted supporters as he moved through the crowd. The former president took to the famous “pork chop on a stick” stand while onlookers chanted “USA.”
Unlike DeSantis, Trump doesn’t grill pork chops himself. He moved to a riser, where he was greeted by cheers from a crowd of supporters along with pro-Trump members of Congress from Florida. The former president launched into a mini-stump speech, bragging about his support from Iowa over the years.
“We’re going to take care of Iowa,” he told the crowd. “You have to stay strong; we have bad, bad people from within.”
DeSantis, on the other hand, saw praise and jeers as he walked the fairgrounds, which he described as “a sign of strength.”
“They know we can beat Biden and we can take this country back, and they don’t want that,” DeSantis told CNN. When asked if he could bring people who don’t like him to his side, DeSantis added that “the average American is open to a new direction.”