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Lawmakers who represent Iowa are already making the case to keep the state's first-in-the-nation caucus status ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Why it matters: The renewed examination of Iowa's early status stems from Democratic party members' calls to have a more diverse state caucus ahead of the state — given the make up of the party electorate — and after a disastrous Democratic caucus in 2020.

What he's saying: "Iowa will be first in the nation with the caucus, and I assure you that that's going to be the case because both the Democratic Party of Iowa and the Republican Party of Iowa want it there," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) said at an Axios event Thursday.

State lawmakers trumpeted Iowa as having a "critical" role in the presidential nomination process.

  • "Iowa plays a critical piece in terms of preparing our Democratic candidates for the national stage," State Representative Ross Wilburn, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, also said at an Axios event on Thursday.
  • "We are prepared to do whatever it takes to retain first in the nation status."

Background: Grassley and Wilburn's comments come after the former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez told The New York Times a diverse state needs to lead the nominating process and maintaining Iowa's status because it's been the status quo is "clearly unacceptable."

  • "The world has changed a lot since 1972 to 2020 and 2024," Perez told Times. "And so the notion that we need to do it because this is how we’ve always done it is a woefully insufficient justification for going first again."

Troy Price, Iowa's former Democratic Party chairman, rebutted Perez claims during an interview with Axios claiming the state's first-in-the-nation status has long been a target.

  • “Everything could have gone swimmingly in the 2020 caucuses and we’d still be having this fight," Price said.

Of note: Wilburn told Axios DNC Chair Jamie Harrison said committees aren't discussing the next presidential selection process until late summer, early fall.

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Updated Feb 18, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on post-election recovery in Des Moines

On Thursday, Feb. 18, Axios hosted a conversation on the impact of local stimulus in Des Moines and the fallout of the 2020 Iowa caucuses, featuring Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Iowa Democratic Party chair and state Rep. Ross Wilburn.

Sen. Chuck Grassley discussed the Iowa caucuses in advance of the 2024 election, as well as the economic stimulus following the pandemic.

  • His response to some House members' calls to have a more diverse state caucus come first in the 2024 election: "Iowa will be first in the nation with the caucus, and I assure you that that's going to be the case because both the Democratic Party of Iowa and the Republican Party of Iowa want it there."
  • On wanting a more focused COVID-19 stimulus package: "We should target any checks that go out from the federal government to people like we have done twice already... that really have need."

Rep. Ross Wilburn similarly discussed Iowa's place in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, as well decisions in the Iowa state legislature around the allocation of economic recovery funds.

  • On his view of why it's important for Iowa to be the first state to caucus: "Iowa plays a critical piece in terms of preparing our Democratic candidates for the national stage."
  • On focusing on small businesses in economic recovery: One of the things that we're trying to do in the House is to get access to a business recovery grant program that we're going to invest funds into, I believe, 5,000 small businesses."

Axios Vice President Mia Vallo hosted a View from the Top segment with East Village Spa owner Cassie Sampson and discussed how the small business community in Des Moines has come together in a period of crisis.

  • "I think the most important thing for me with the small business community here is to stay in touch with each other...So really reach out, lift each other up. We need each other and share ideas."

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

DOJ seizes 36 U.S. website domains for Iranian government disinformation

Iran's President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall in Tehran on Monday. Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

American officials seized 36 news website domains linked to Iran's government for spreading disinformation as part of a propaganda campaign, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The action comes at a time of heightened tension between the two countries, with Iran's hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday ruling out negotiating over missiles or meeting with President Biden as the two nations hold talks on returning Tehran to the 2015 nuclear deal.

NYT: Khashoggi's killers had paramilitary training in U.S.

A vigil for journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, following his killing in 2018 in Turkey. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Several Saudis who took part in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi had paramilitary training in the U.S. under a State Department contract a year before his 2018 death, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the department knew that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sanctioned Saudi officials to detain, kidnap and torture dissidents in 2017, the approval of such training underscores how "intensely intertwined" the U.S. has become with a nation known for human rights abuses, per the NYT.