Amidst the struggles of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign and the potential third indictment looming over former President Donald Trump, Iowa Republicans gathered on Friday evening to explore their options for the upcoming presidential primary race. The event was a Republican fundraising dinner, serving as a crucial audition stage for 13 White House hopefuls, including the top two polling candidates. Iowa’s Jan. 15 caucuses mark the starting point of the nomination process.
Due to the difficulties faced by Trump and DeSantis, Republicans are contemplating other potential candidates, such as Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who has gained notable attention.
At the Lincoln Dinner, attended by county party leaders, state legislators, and activists who are likely to participate in the caucuses, the candidates made personal efforts to woo the attendees. After dinner, most candidates appeared in breakout rooms, competing to offer the best afterparty event. Trump stood out by personally greeting guests and offering them ice cream. Meanwhile, DeSantis’ supporters had an interesting setup with baseballs to throw at Bud Light cans, symbolizing their opposition to Anheuser-Busch InBev due to a recent marketing campaign involving trans-gender Dylan Mulvaney.
During the dinner, Trump and DeSantis both made speeches, with the entire room giving Trump a standing ovation. Trump criticized DeSantis early in his speech, highlighting poll results that showed him in the lead.
“I wouldn’t take a chance on that one,” Trump said of DeSantis.
DeSantis, on the other hand, didn’t directly address Trump but suggested that he might not fare well against President Joe Biden in a general election, emphasizing the importance of winning in 2024.
Speakers who exceeded the 10-minute time limit had their microphones cut off, and music played. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson used his time to bring up Trump’s legal challenges and urged Iowa Republicans to consider a new direction for the party. Hutchinson stated, “You will be voting in Iowa while multiple criminal cases are pending against former President Trump,”
Will Hurd, a former Texas congressman, and Trump critic, faced heavy boos for directly criticizing the former president and expressing concerns about a potential Biden victory if Trump were to be reelected.
According to Hurd, Donald Trump’s motivation for running is to avoid going to prison. Hurd believes that accepting Trump as the Republican leader would lead to another four years of Joe Biden’s presidency. According to Hurd, the truth may be difficult to accept, but it is important to consider.
DeSantis is working on revitalizing his campaign, facing declining poll numbers and financial challenges. Although his allies often portray the primary as a two-man race between him and Trump, the governor displayed humility, stating that he believes he must earn the support through hard work rather than entitlement.