DeSantis Takes Advantage of Trump's Rally Cancellation to Connect With Iowa Voters

AP Photo/File

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did himself a huge favor this weekend by making a surprise appearance in Des Moines, Iowa. Despite the fact that he has not yet announced his candidacy for president, the governor is making campaign stops in several states, Iowa being one of the most important.

The fact that former President Donald Trump canceled a scheduled rally in the area only added to the benefit for DeSantis, who continues to trail him in the polls. Indeed, the development caused quite a stir on social media, with speculation as to Trump’s true reasons for canceling the event.

Trump’s team cited the potential for tornadoes as the reason for the cancellation, but this explanation drew skepticism from Iowa officials and speculation that Trump may have been concerned about a smaller-than-expected crowd. Meanwhile, DeSantis took the opportunity to connect with Iowa voters at a local barbecue joint, where he subtly remarked that it was a “beautiful night.” The governor highlighted his record in Florida and expressed confidence in his ability to deliver results nationwide.

While Trump’s campaign expressed confidence in his ability to generate enthusiasm and support, there were doubts surrounding the cited weather-related reason for canceling the Des Moines rally. The campaign had claimed that a Tornado Watch issued by the National Weather Service necessitated the postponement of the event, but this explanation was met with skepticism.

In an email, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung told Fox News Digital:

In the interest of the safety for everyone in Iowa at the sold-out event in Des Moines, due to the National Weather Service’s Tornado Watch in effect in Polk and surrounding counties, we were unfortunately forced to postpone the event. We will be there at the first available date.

“Trump is dominating in poll after poll – both nationally and statewide,” Cheung added, expressing confidence that the former president is still the favorite for the GOP nomination. “There is nobody else who can generate the type of enthusiasm and support like he can. There were thousands of supporters who had RSVP’d for the rally, which would have eclipsed the tiny crowds others are so proud of.”

Following the cancellation, Trump’s campaign staff visited an elderly couple who supported him, providing them with campaign gear and facilitating a phone call with the former president. Meanwhile, DeSantis took advantage of the situation, addressing a gathering of approximately 150 enthusiastic supporters in Des Moines, highlighting his track record and expressing optimism for a better future nationwide.

DeSantis’s impromptu visit to Iowa came after a series of events in Sioux Center and Cedar Rapids. The surprise appearance further fueled speculation about his presidential ambitions and positioned him as a main challenger to Trump’s potential nomination in the 2024 Republican primary. The Florida governor has already garnered endorsements from prominent Iowa Republicans, including state Senate President Amy Sinclair and state House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl.

The two lawmakers penned an op-ed for the Des Moines Register in which they explained why they support DeSantis over the other contenders. In their endorsement, they emphasized DeSantis’ track record of conservative leadership and his accomplishments in Florida. They praised his handling of the pandemic, where he prioritized keeping schools open and trusted individuals to make their own decisions regarding businesses, resulting in a thriving state economy.

The lawmakers also highlighted DeSantis’ commitment to important issues such as school choice, tort reform, and parents’ rights. According to the endorsements, DeSantis’ effective leadership has led to Florida’s population growth, strong economic performance, low unemployment rates, and low tax and debt burdens.

It might be tempting to view this weekend in Iowa as a victory for DeSantis and possibly a setback for Trump. But the numbers are still in the former president’s favor.

A National Research poll showed Trump still leading the crowd by a significant margin. He is beating DeSantis, by 20 points among Iowa’s Republican voters. American Greatness, the outlet that commissioned the poll, reported:

The survey of 500 likely 2024 Republican Presidential Caucus voters found that 44 percent of respondents favored Trump compared to 26 percent who backed DeSantis. Twelve percent of likely voters said they were undecided, and the remaining voters were split between the six other candidates.

Despite not knowing Team Trump’s reasons for canceling the event in Des Moines, the former president remains firmly ahead of his primary opponents. It appears there aren’t enough people who believe Trump didn’t show up because he was concerned about crowd sizes.

Still, this was a good moment for DeSantis, who desperately needs to build more momentum if he is going to have even a small chance of catching up to Trump. He is sure to get a decent bump in the polls when he does eventually announce, but he will still need to do more to sell himself to a base that, as of this moment, still wants to give Trump another shot.


Trending on RedState Videos