DES MOINES, Iowa (Caasimada Online) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made his inaugural voyage to Iowa, a critical early-voting state, on Friday as he explores the possibility of launching a presidential campaign.
DeSantis is expected to enter the White House race later in the spring. Winning the first Republican nominating contest in Iowa would validate his candidacy.
However, he faces a significant obstacle in the form of former President Donald Trump, who is exceedingly popular in the state due to his two previous presidential campaigns.
Iowa trip: A test of DeSantis’ presidential ambitions
The Florida Governor addressed a warm audience at a casino in Davenport, Iowa, highlighting his achievements in Florida while criticizing the Democratic Biden administration on issues such as crime and immigration.
He confidently stated, “In Florida, we get things done, and in the process, we beat the left day after day, week after week, month after month.” He also criticized a “radical leftist ideology” in education, medicine, and business.
DeSantis has been staging various events nationwide, including in Iowa, to raise his national profile and secure funding from deep-pocketed donors.
Despite giving no overt indication of his presidential ambitions, DeSantis is considered Trump’s most formidable challenger for the Republican nomination, according to polls.
DeSantis impresses Iowa voters
According to Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party, Iowa voters are enthusiastic about hearing from DeSantis.
Robinson emphasized that DeSantis must engage in extensive retail campaigning, as Huckabee, Santorum, and Cruz did in previous elections, to counter Trump’s popularity and make an early breakthrough.
DeSantis must be willing to “log the miles and meet Iowans where they are,” Robinson said.
DeSantis’ visit to Iowa impressed Republican voters like Randy Yaddof and Jim Girts. Despite describing himself as a Trump supporter, Yaddof considers supporting DeSantis after listening to his speech.
Jim Girts, who didn’t vote for Trump, was impressed with DeSantis’ ability to connect with the audience and his younger age.
Girts stated, “I wanted to see if he was comfortable talking to people,” and added that he would consider supporting DeSantis in the 2024 election.
Trump favorability ratings declining in Iowa
A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll states that Trump’s favorability ratings among Iowa Republicans are declining.
The number of Republicans who said they would “definitely” vote for Trump in next year’s general election dropped to 47% from a high of 69% in 2021.
Despite Trump’s declining popularity, DeSantis faces an uphill battle against the former President, who has already begun assembling a campaign team in Iowa that includes Eric Branstad, the son of former Republican Governor Terry Branstad.
On Monday, Trump is scheduled to outline his education plan at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. He will likely address issues such as school diversity and equity programs and teaching gender-identity concepts to children, similar to DeSantis’ opposition to these programs in Florida.
The eventual Republican nominee will face off against President Joe Biden in November 2024.
While the field of candidates is still taking shape, other potential Republican candidates like former Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Senator Tim Scott, and Trump’s former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley have visited Iowa in recent months.