President Donald Trump drew thousands of supporters to the Adler Theatre in Davenport, Iowa, where he began campaigning toward his third bid for the White House in 2024.
Trump delivered remarks to an energetic crowd of more than 3,500 Iowans on Monday, as reported by Politico.
Jason Miller, a top Trump advisor, also reported that the audience was comprised of residents from 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties, according to NBC News.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa, joined Trump on stage, later tweeting that he was “unapologetically America First!”
In his speech, Trump slammed his potential adversaries, most notably Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., while he outlined his vision for the nation ahead of the state’s presidential caucus next year. The 45th president, who spoke for nearly two hours on stage, answered nine questions from the audience and discussed how he would “pick a great” vice president in 2024.
Prior to his speech, the 45th president had also traveled to a local restaurant in Davenport, where he was met by welcoming customers, some of whom were sporting t-shirts that read, “Trump Won.”
Iowa holds the first primary caucuses for both major parties. Its results, while they do not guarantee the nomination, narrow down the primary field to a handful of candidates, while highlighting the ones with the most momentum.
Since 1976, Republican candidates have crisscrossed the state, visiting small towns, church services, fairs, and fish fries in an attempt to establish a ground game to connect with the rural voters of the state.
Trump lost the Iowa caucus to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2016, and described how he “should have had a better ground game” in the state in order to defeat the senator. Hoping to prevent a second close primary loss in Iowa, Trump has begun to lay the groundwork for his third presidential bid by visiting the state for the first time since announcing his plans for reelection.
Trump may also face a difficult battle against other potential primary contenders. DeSantis, who has been referred to as the 45th president’s closest challenger if he runs, had visited the state just three days before Trump, leaving many to speculate if the governor will launch his own bid for the Oval Office.
A recent poll from the Des Moines Register also reported that the two Republicans have similar favorability ratings with the Iowa GOP. The poll reported that 80 percent favorably viewed Trump, and 75 percent favorably viewed DeSantis.
While Trump and DeSantis are neck and neck, it is possible that the president defeats the governor by a sizable margin in the state’s primary, as voters of the swing state decisively voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.
Iowa’s Republican presidential primary will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2024.