Aug 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump trolls DeSantis in Iowa

 Former U.S. President Donald Trump on stage before delivering remarks at Windham High School on August 8, 2023 in Windham, New Hampshire.

Former President Trump on stage before delivering remarks at Windham High School on August 8 in Windham, New Hampshire. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Former President Trump will travel to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday with a caravan of special guests: nine Florida Republicans who have endorsed him over their own governor, Ron DeSantis.

Why it matters: The polling in Iowa has been sparse, but a recent New York Times/Siena poll found Trump is leading DeSantis in the first-in-the-nation caucuses by 24 percentage points — a slimmer margin than most national surveys.

Driving the news: Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast, Cory Mills, Anna Paulina Luna, Greg Steube and Mike Waltz will accompany Trump to the annual fair, a staple of the Iowa circuit that DeSantis will also attend, the Des Moines Register reports.

  • Trump has spurned several GOP "cattle call" events in Iowa and has feuded with the state's popular Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is hosting a "fair-side chat" series with candidates on Saturday. Trump is not planning to attend a public chat with Reynolds.
  • The DeSantis campaign responded to news of Trump's troll with a two-word tweet: "Rent free."

Zoom out: DeSantis has been campaigning aggressively in the first-of-the-nation caucus state, attending nearly 30 counties as of Saturday, the New York Times reported. His campaign says he plans to visit all 99 counties in the state.

  • Facing flagging poll numbers and a cash crunch, DeSantis is betting on Iowa as a crucial state to present himself as a viable alternative to the former president.

Most Republican presidential candidates are planning to participate in public conversations with Reynolds on Saturday, including DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Go deeper: Inside DeSantis' push for footing in Iowa

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