For the first time in months, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday displayed the aggressive political instincts that allies have long claimed to display in a confrontation with former President Donald J. Trump.
After two successful political events in Iowa, Mr. DeSantis made an unscheduled stop in Des Moines. The move was intended to highlight the fact that Trump abruptly postponed a planned Saturday night rally in the region, citing reports of possible stormy weather.
Trump’s explanation for event postponement drew skepticism and ridicule from local Iowa officials About “beautiful” weather from the DeSantis Alliance. And DeSantis, who has avoided direct confrontation with Trump, has effectively kicked sand in the former president’s face by coming to an area Trump claims he was told was too dangerous to visit.
On Saturday night, after events elsewhere in the state, DeSantis headed to Jethro’s Barbecue Southside, where he and his wife, Casey DeSantis, stood at an outdoor table to a cheering crowd. I spoke to him. The barbecue was just a short drive from where Trump planned to hold his rally.
“My good husband and I were able to travel all over Iowa today, but wanted to go say hello to the people of Des Moines before heading back to Florida,” DeSantis said with a grin. “Well then, thank you all for coming. It was a beautiful night and a great day for us.”
DeSantis’ sharp pit stop was a clear rebuke to Trump, who has been trying to torture the Florida governor for months, mocking his poor polling and lack of charisma. Mr. DeSantis resisted fighting back while the state legislature was closed, even though he had not been declared a candidate, and several unforced errors allowed the former president to fight back. control the race Heading into 2024, it has frustrated some of DeSantis’ allies.
But as he prepares to face Trump, who has overwhelmed every Republican congressman he has ever campaigned for, Mr. DeSantis has indicated that he does not intend to suffer the same consequences.
“If someone punches you in the face, you should hit them back,” said Terry Sullivan, who directed Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. During the campaign, Mr. Rubio was criticized for not doing enough to fight back against Mr. Rubio. Mr Trump.
DeSantis has been outmaneuvered by the Trump team on numerous occasions. Saturday was the first time Mr. DeSantis took the opportunity to appear before Mr. Trump in what appeared to be a misstep.
Trump canceled his trip to Iowa, which was later hosted by the ReAwaken America Tour, a Christian nationalist far-right movement led by QAnon promoter and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn. participated in an event to Mr Trump forced his resignation early in his term. The group, which helps promote conspiracy theories, paid for Doral, one of Trump’s clubs in Florida.
Mr. DeSantis needs to frame more days like Saturday in a campaign heavily dependent on winning the Iowa caucuses early next year. But Republican activists in the state say the caucuses have a chance for someone other than Trump. And Saturday’s visit, which also includes the Sioux Center, home to many Christian conservatives who need support, is positive for Republicans who want to beat Trump but are disappointed by DeSantis’ stumbling steps. considered a development. to the national stage.
And Trump remains in the lead in the state, according to the latest polls. But Trump’s team also lowered the hurdles to Mr. DeSantis’ first outing so much over the course of weeks with unrelenting mockery that his mere appearance was critical to the crowd eager to check it out. Mr. DeSantis has done well because he didn’t make a big mistake.
Despite the unexpected — albeit indirect — attacks on Jethro, two people familiar with the governor’s political campaign said he would directly criticize Trump until he formally announced his campaign. is unlikely to do so. And even as he dives into the expected imminent election campaign, he’s largely focused on comparing his own track record to Mr. Trump’s, especially when it comes to issues like the coronavirus pandemic. They will claim to be the better qualified candidate. Defeat President Biden in the general election.
It’s a strategy to avoid replaying Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, and one the governor has foreseen as he hypes up Republican events across the country. And while DeSantis is decades younger than the 76-year-old Trump, who was recently indicted and could face additional charges in other investigations, he positions himself as interested in the future, not the past.
DeSantis told the fund Saturday night: “If we make this election the theme of a referendum on Joe Biden and his failed policies, and provide positive options to lead America in a new direction, Republicans will win across the board. I think so,” he said. – Iowa Republican proponent of Cedar Rapids. The event aired on Fox News at a time Trump claimed Fox News reserved to air his rally.
DeSantis’ message has already appealed to some voters, including Amy Seeger, who traveled from Milwaukee to see him speak at a picnic at Sioux Center earlier in the day.
“I would vote for shoes more than Trump,” Mr. Seeger said in an interview. “It’s time to move forward. Trump is so crazy about 2020, he’s playing the victim.”
Mr. DeSantis has also used his trips to Iowa to flip burgers at picnics and talk about his life as a family man with his wife at a night fundraiser in Cedar Rapids to explore some of his personality moments. He showed off his enigmatic bright side.
During the second event, DeSantis, along with her husband, took the stage to interview state Republican Party chairman Jeff Kaufman following the governor’s remarks. DeSantis’ stumps speech focuses almost exclusively on policy, omitting the details of her career that politicians are commonly expected to provide. His wife seemed to fill that gap with personal stories about Mr. DeSantis’ childhood in Florida, his military service, and his three young children.
“Don’t think for a second that when he gets home, he’s going to sleep right away,” she said. “Give him three small children and I will go to bed.”
The moment resonated with the audience. Muscatine doctor Bob Carlson, who was in the audience, said, “He had a sweet side, a family side, which I didn’t really appreciate.”
As Mr. DeSantis prepares for his announcement, he is beginning to show another sign of political power that is more important than financial backing. The trip to Iowa, which he is expected to visit again soon, comes after the super PAC, which almost officially backs his presidential campaign, announced support from the United States. was broken 37 legislators. Locally elected representatives tend to pay less attention to national polls than members of parliament. Slower to support the governor.
By contrast, Mr. Trump, who had scheduled a rally in an attempt to drown out Mr. DeSantis’ visit by appearing on the same day, showed up out of the blue. be canceled About his own event in the middle of the afternoon, tornado watch.
Trump campaign spokesman Stephen Chan said the event in Iowa was sold out, but “due to tornado monitoring by the National Weather Service in Polk and surrounding counties, we regretfully decided to postpone the event.” I was forced,” he said. We will arrive on the first available day. ”
However, a sudden squall accompanied by tornado warnings hit Des Moines in spite of heavy rain, but it lasted about half an hour, and the sun was shining on the rally grounds when word of the cancellation arrived. The bad weather has raised questions among Iowans about whether Trump is worried he won’t be able to draw the crowds he expected. A dangerous storm is not coming, according to local activists who want the party to move forward from Trump.
“Everyone Goes Out On A Nice Night” Influential Podcast Host Steve Deace I have written On Twitter from Mr. DeSantis’ BBQ Victory Lap. “There were quite a few spectators. No bad weather in sight. Planes are taking off and landing as scheduled.”
Mr. DeSantis’ hopes of winning the Iowa caucus include the social conservatives who backed candidates like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee in 2016 and the suburban moderates who backed Rubio. It involves rallying a cautious coalition.
Still, Mr. DeSantis may be prepared to draw support from enough parts of the state to expand his support. For example, influential social conservative leader Bob Vander Praetz met with the governor and publicly praised him.
DeSantis’ day was punctuated by appearances by Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst and Governor Kim Reynolds. The visits don’t necessarily mean officials are nearing their endorsement, but there is a willingness to support someone other than Trump in the state and less concern about reprisals from the former president than in the past. It is shown that.
Brett Hayworth contributed a report from Sault Center, Iowa. Jonathan Wiseman contributed a report from Des Moines.
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