Former President Donald Trump was back in Iowa Monday night and he was loaded for bear, taking aim at woke liberals, the mainstream media, the Deep State, “Paul Ryan RINOs” and the current unpopular top resident of the White House.
And Trump, arguably the leading contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, made the crowd packing Davenport’s 2,400-seat Adler Theatre some big promises. Chief among them: He’ll always have Iowa’s back and he’ll “stop World War III.”
“The people of Iowa have always been there for me. We’ve had a great relationship right from the beginning,” he said. “I can honestly say I have always been there for you and I will be there for you.”
A couple of weeks ago, however, Iowans were beginning to wonder where Trump was. The former president, who announced his run for the White House shortly after November’s mid-term elections, was conspicuously absent from the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
Earlier this month, Trump promised he would soon be back to the state that helped start his 2016 presidential campaign engine, a deep red state that abundantly supported his previous two campaigns for president.
He ran down the billions of dollars his trade deals have brought to Iowa farmers, claiming he was the “most pro-farmer president” in history. There’s much Trump can take credit for, like cutting a myriad regulations that have long hamstrung U.S. agriculture producers. And, per usual, Trump took credit for doing more than he did. He said he “eliminated the unfair estate tax” (or federal death tax) that has been an albatross around the necks of America’s family farmers. He did sign the bill that raised the threshold for the onerous tax, but it did not eliminate it.
Trump boasted of his backing of corn-based ethanol in a state where corn remains king. His administration lifted the summertime ban on E15, the gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. In noting his support for Iowa’s critical renewable fuels industry, Trump took another swipe at perhaps his biggest potential rival for the Republican nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Or, as Trump has billed him, Ron “DeSanctimonious.”
“He strongly opposed ethanol and fought against it at every turn, and he’s going to do it again,” Trump warned, seemingly suggesting that some key Iowa Republicans appearing with him in Davenport, perhaps even Governor Kim Reynolds, advised him not to “go there.”
DeSantis was in Davenport and Des Moines last Friday to promote his new book. He said nothing of Trump or his potential GOP competitors. Trump, however, had a lot to say about DeSantis. On his social network platform Truth Social over the weekend, Trump wrote that DeSantis would “beg for mercy” in Iowa for his votes while in congress on bills that would have ended the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS requires percentages of renewable fuel blended into the U.S. fuel supply. DeSantis, as a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, came out against a number of federal subsidies.
“Why on earth (farmer’s love earth!) would the wonderful people of the GREAT State of Iowa vote for Ron DeSanctimonious when he voted and fought to KILL Ethanol (and will definitely do so if given the chance) …” Trump wrote.
DeSantis’ campaign did not respond to The Iowa Star’s request for comment.
Trump’s latest assault on DeSantis comes as a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll shows the former president and the Florida governor in a dead heat in Iowa. The poll found that 80 percent of self-identified Republicans in the state had a “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” view of Trump, while 75 percent said the same of DeSantis.
“A slightly higher proportion held ‘very favorable’ views of Trump (44%) than DeSantis (42%), but other data indicates support for the 45th president is softening ahead of the 2024 caucuses,” The New York Post reported.
Trump’s campaign stop was billed as a conversation on education policy. He got there, eventually. The former president pounded the woke and nanny states that he says are indoctrinating, not educating America’s children. If elected, he pledged to sign an executive order to cut federal funding for “any school pushing CRT [critical race theory] and any other “inappropriate racial, social or political content to our children.”
“Our country has gone crazy,” Trump said.
Such a pledge may be constitutionally suspect, but it earned roaring approval from the crowd in Iowa.
More so, Trump vowed to break up the Department of Education and redistribute its functions through the states.
“This must be done to save our country from destruction,” he declared.
Trump pointed to Russia’s war in Ukraine, sabre rattling from China, Iran getting closer to the threat of a making nuclear weapon. He put the blame squarely on the weak and dangerous foreign policy of the Biden administration. He said he doesn’t believe there’s ever been a “more dangerous time for this country and the world.”
“I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III,” he said.
The 45th president, vying to be the 47th, said he would end the “reign of the corrupt Washington establishment,” aka the swamp.
He ended with a common call that has been charging grassroots Republicans and infuriating the left for the better part of a decade.
“We will end the woke, we will crush the deep state, we will save our economy, we will defend our farmers, we will evict Joe Bien from the White House and we will Make America Great Again.”
Watch the full event:
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.