Trump and his allies descend on Iowa


Former President Donald J. Trump began a flurry of campaign activity Wednesday aiming for a decisive victory in Iowa that would crush his Republican rivals' hopes of emerging with any kind of momentum in the presidential primaries.

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Trump gave a speech in Coralville, a small town in eastern Iowa, on Wednesday, before planned stops in New Hampshire, the second nominating state, and Nevada, third on the primary calendar, over the weekend. Trump will return to Iowa on Tuesday to give a speech in Waterloo, a city in the northeastern part of the state.

But as Trump is bolstering support in the other early states, prominent representatives will descend on Iowa on his behalf in a show of the particular advantages he enjoys as a former president and dominant primary favorite. Next week, his campaign will hold events in Iowa with Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a conservative firebrand and one of Trump's closest allies in Congress, and Ben Carson, the former president's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump enters this stage of the campaign buoyed by recent polls that show him maintaining his lead in the primaries and in a strong position against President Biden in next year's general election should the two meet for a rematch. Trump's allies in the Republican-led House of Representatives have approved a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden that could have ramifications for the president's campaign, even as their investigations have so far failed to produce evidence of crimes or misdemeanors. serious.

And as the first nomination contests approach, there has been little progress by rivals hoping to claim the mantle of Trump's primary rival. The Republican governors of Iowa and New Hampshire have endorsed different candidates, highlighting the challenge the candidates face as they try to coalesce the anti-Trump faction behind them.

A recent Iowa poll even found that Trump's support in the state increased as candidates dropped out of the race. His popularity has not diminished even though other candidates have invaded the state to speak to voters and urge them to consider alternatives. And although he faces four upcoming criminal trials, one of which is scheduled to begin in March, polls suggest the charges have not affected his standing in the Republican primary.

Since September, Trump has held a series of “caucus engagement” events in Iowa that are intended to help his campaign turn his enormous popularity in the state into a strong caucus showing.

Trump's event next week in Waterloo will be his sixth campaign stop in Iowa this month. Vivek Ramaswamy, a businessman who is trailing Trump in the polls, was scheduled to hold seven campaign events in the state on Wednesday alone. He also participated in a CNN town hall Wednesday night.

Still, the Trump campaign has been gradually increasing its event schedule as the caucuses approached and plans to continue doing so. Trump has promised to bomb the state in January and more events with surrogates are expected.

Trump also has significant polling leads in New Hampshire, the first state he won during his successful 2016 presidential campaign. And the race in Nevada is tilted in his favor.

On Wednesday, Trump devoted much of his speech to the economy, attacking Biden for not doing enough to address gas prices and inflation. He mocked his rivals and the Republican governors who have backed them.

The speech in Coralville was Trump's first campaign event since an interview in which he steadfastly refused to deny that he would abuse power to retaliate against his political opponents. When pressed, Trump promised that he would not be a dictator, “any more than Day 1.”

The former president did not address that comment Wednesday, which he has since said was a joke. But he defended it in a speech Saturday in Manhattan.

During his keynote speech at a New York Young Republican Club gala, Trump confirmed that he “wanted to be a dictator” for a day, just to build a border wall and drill for oil. He called the suggestion that he would be a threat to democracy the Democrats' “new hoax.”

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