Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Drake University in Des Moines, Jan. 30. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The star guest spotted at a Sheraton in Des Moines in recent days was Elizabeth Warren's golden retriever, Bailey. But in a conference room off the same hotel lobby, Trump campaign operatives have been quietly orchestrating a massive operation for tomorrow's Republican caucuses.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign is using Iowa as a testing ground for the rest of the campaign trail.

  • It's testing its field program, bandwidth of staff and volunteers on the ground, and the efficiency of its surrogates. Trump rallied in Iowa himself last week, and roughly 80 members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries and administration officials are coming tomorrow.
  • The campaign said it recruited 2,400 volunteers for caucus efforts alone, holding 93 training sessions and making 125,000 phone calls.
  • “The caucus is a test of turnout [of volunteers, and staff],” Stephanie Alexander, regional political director for the Trump campaign, tells Axios. “This is a really, really good way for us to see how far we can get and how far our reach is with the staff that we have on the ground and the volunteers that have already committed.”

Surrogates: Top surrogates per the Trump campaign: Lara Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Brad Parscale.

  • They’ll run through Trump’s greatest hits throughout different parts of Iowa, particularly the passage of the USMCA and signing phase one of the U.S.-China trade deal, playing straight to the Iowa farmers.

Between the lines: Iowa has a lot of unaffiliated voters, and the Trump campaign plans to focus heavily on voter registration, including converting independent and Democratic voters supportive of POTUS to register as Republicans.

  • It’s also the first opportunity since 2016 for Iowans to affirm their support for Trump.
  • It's also an important state for Republicans to take seriously, given GOP Senator Joni Ernst is up for re-election and the GOP is eyeing two House seats they lost in 2018.

Go deeper: Biden surrogates test electability argument ahead of Iowa clash with Sanders

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