DeSantis in Iowa warns of GOP ‘culture of losing’ as weather sidelines Trump’s event in the state

Sault Center, Iowa –

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday denounced the Republican Party’s “losing culture” as a clash between leading presidential candidates in battleground Iowa was interrupted by a tornado warning, criticizing Donald Trump. He called on former US President Donald Trump to lessen his grip on the Republican Party.

DeSantis, who is expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign in due course, flipped burgers and pork chops at an afternoon picnic fundraiser at the Sioux Center, where hundreds of conservatives gathered in the northwestern corner of the state. rice field. From his podium, the 44-year-old governor emphasized his eagerness to embrace the conservative culture struggle, interspersed with indirect jabs at Trump in his remarks.

“Governance isn’t about entertaining people. Governance is about building brands, talking on social media, and demonstrating virtue,” DeSantis said, wearing a blue button-down shirt instead of a tie or jacket. Not to tell,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s important to win and get results.”

Trump, who has been a candidate since November, wanted to prove his political prowess later that day by holding a large outdoor rally in the capital Des Moines. The performance was canceled hours before the scheduled start time due to a tornado warning.

About 200 supporters had already gathered at the venue.

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

Republican primary voters across the country are eyeing Republican heavyweights DeSantis and Trump, one of six Republican candidates already in the race or expected to be announced soon. ing. Early national polls show Mr. Trump well ahead of his rivals, but Mr. DeSantis is widely seen as potentially the strongest challenger.

After a turbulent week, Trump hoped to return to a comfortable campaign stage.

On Tuesday, a New York civil jury found advice columnist E. Gene Carroll guilty of sexual abuse and defamation and sentenced him to $5 million. The next day, at the controversial CNN town hall, he repeatedly insulted Carroll, reasserted lies about losing the 2020 election, and tried to minimize violence on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. reduced to

DeSantis has developed a reputation as a conservative governor who pushes hard on conservative policies and is willing to fight politically with Disney, a point he emphasized at the Sioux Center. But so far, he hasn’t shown the same zeal to take on President Trump, who for months has had almost the sole focus on overthrowing DeSantis.

On Saturday, DeSantis sidestepped Trump’s legal entanglement and falsehoods about the 2020 election, instead highlighting a string of recent Republican election losses. Republicans have struggled in every national election since President Trump’s victory in 2016.

“We must reject the culture of loss that has affected our party in recent years. The time for making excuses is over,” Mr. DeSantis said. “If we distract ourselves or focus the election on the past and other collateral issues, I think the Democrats will beat us again.”

It’s unclear whether Mr. DeSantis’ political successes in Florida can be replicated on the national stage.

He has already faced questions about his ability to court donors and persuade voters, even before he officially entered the campaign.

His second trip to Iowa in two months will help address concerns about his sometimes awkward personal appeals to meet with Republicans, donors and volunteers while under the spotlight of national media. was expected. But Mr. DeSantis, at least compared to most other Republican White House candidates, spent little time for selfies and handshakes at the Sioux Center. There, more than 600 people had gathered to see Mr. DeSantis at an event purported to be a family picnic for US lawmakers.Randy Feenstra.

Mr. DeSantis turned most of his political affairs over to the alliance’s ultra-political action committee, which set up a table where he could register his supporters for the as-yet-unannounced presidential election.

The street outside the museum was lined with signs for the DeSantis 2024 campaign.

Trump’s team expects more than 5,000 people to attend a rally at an outdoor amphitheater in downtown Des Moines to gather information on potential supporters and encourage their commitment to Trump. rice field.

Mr. Trump’s 2024 Iowa campaign is building a more disciplined, data-driven campaign, unlike the patchwork campaign in Iowa, which came in second in 2016. The Saturday event encourages participants to register with the campaign on its website so that the campaign can maintain contact with participants, keep them informed of how and where to caucuse, and recruit campaign volunteers. aimed at

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

And as they compete for support, their new-found rivalry with DeSantis is getting more and more personal.

Mr. DeSantis has been accused of misbehaving as a teacher with girls decades ago, questioning his sexuality and calling Mr. Trump “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Most of Trump’s worst jabs have been ignored.

The Trump campaign began airing ads mocking DeSantis for being yoke to the former president during his 2018 gubernatorial run, and even used Trump’s catchphrase as a tribute to supporters in Florida. bottom.

President Trump’s super PAC, MAGA, also aired a spot highlighting DeSantis’ vote for cuts in Social Security and Medicare and an increase in retirement age. The group even targeted Ms. DeSantis’s snacking habits, running ads urging her to end her snacking habits with “pudding fingers.” This was a reference to a Daily Beast report that the governor ate chocolate pudding with his fingers instead of a spoon on an airplane several years ago.

Mr. DeSantis said he didn’t remember doing that.

At the same time, the DeSantis-backed Super PAC Never Back Down hired Iowa state officials and began trying to organize support for the governor before the 2024 announcement. On Thursday, the group announced that Senate Speaker Amy Sinclair and House Majority Leader Matt Windsitol endorsed DeSantis’ candidacy. On Friday, it added about 30 more state legislators to endorse him.

Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst attended DeSantis’ Sioux Center appearance.

After his speech, he walked through a large audience, followed by reporters, TV cameras and security guards, shaking hands and chatting with voters for about 15 minutes. He then ventured outdoors to pose with Reynolds and Feenstra while tending burgers and pork chops on the grill.

Rock Valley’s Lyle and Sonia Remelde shook hands. DeSantis’ style is “normal,” she says.

“If you compare Mr. Trump to Mr. DeSantis, I think Mr. DeSantis has a – how to say – a much smoother approach,” said Lyle Remade, 65. “He’s not very aggressive.”

Price reported from Des Moines, Iowa. People’s reports from New York.

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