While his main Republican opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, was at the Iowa State Fair this weekend frying pork chops and greeting possible GOP caucus-goers, former President Donald Trump stole the show from him by flying over in his private plane.
Trump and DeSantis were among the thousands in attendance as the 2024 Republican presidential contest came to a head.
DeSantis spent the day partaking in the customs that have made the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines a must-see for any presidential candidate since the Democratic Party moved the state to the top of its nominating calendar in 1972 and the Republican Party did the same in 1976. (The Democrats are switching up the nomination order this year.)
Trump disregarded these norms but still drew a huge crowd, demonstrating the loyalty of Republican Party faithful even as the former president faces what might be a fourth indictment in the coming days. For months, the Republican primary has revolved around Trump’s legal woes, with the ex-president repeatedly using his indictments as a fundraising tool and painting them as politically motivated.
Trump’s entourage in Iowa was there mostly to troll DeSantis. It included Florida Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast, Cory Mills, Anna Paulina Luna, Greg Steube, and Mike Waltz, all of whom have backed Trump over their state’s governor.
While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis barbecued pork chops on Saturday, flyers criticising his record on agriculture were being circulated throughout the fairgrounds. In spite of the fact that “Iowa pork is delicious” and “nearly 1 in 10 working Iowans are employed,” the leaflet warned that “Ron DeSantis would be an utter catastrophe for Iowa.”
It was not obvious if the people handing out the Trump campaign flyers were paid employees or volunteers. HEADLINESFOREVER was approached by at least one person wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap and a flyer advertising “Donald J. Trump for President 2024, INC.”
Trump arrived at the fair and made his way through the crowd, greeting his supporters as he went. Former president Clinton makes his way to the “pork chop on a stick” stand as supporters cheered and yelled “USA, USA, USA.”
Trump, unlike DeSantis, did not cook his own pork chops on the grill. He stood on a riser, where he was cheered on by Trump supporters and pro-Trump Floridian lawmakers. The former president gave a short stump speech in which he thanked the people of Iowa for their continued support.
He assured the gathering, “We’re going to take care of Iowa.” To paraphrase, “You have to stay strong; we have bad, bad people from within.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis encountered both supporters and critics as he made his way through the fairgrounds, something he took as “a sign of strength.”
DeSantis told HEADLINESFOREVER, “They know that we will beat Biden and that we will be able to turn this country around, and they do not want that.” DeSantis responded to a question about whether he might win over his opponents by saying, “average Americans are open to a new direction.”