Iowa Roundup: Tim Scott’s Tennessee Champion, Joe Manchin Courts Iowans Amid Speculation of Third-Party Run

U.S. Senator and presumptive GOP presidential candidate Tim Scott has tapped a former popular Republican governor to head up his national campaign. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gets a little help from Mother Nature on Mother’s Day weekend. And is Joe Manchin opening doors in Iowa for a third-party presidential run?

Here’s the roundup from the Hawkeye State presidential campaign trail.

Haslam Steps Up for Scott

German-owned Politico reports former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will help lead Scott’s presidential campaign, as the Republican senator from South Carolina inches closer to officially declaring. Scott announced the formation of his exploratory committee last month. He has said he will make a “major announcement” in North Charleston, SC, on May 22.

“It is time to make the final step. Please tell your friends. Be in attendance,” Scott said at a town hall late last month.

Scott, the only black GOP member of the U.S. Senate, has said his message is about rising above “victimhood” and uniting under core American values.

The presumptive presidential candidate has a good friend in Haslam, a billionaire former governor who was re-elected in 2014 with the largest margin of victory in modern Tennessee history.

“One of the things I learned from being in elected office is it really does matter who we elect,” Haslam told the German-owned political news outlet. “The more I talked to Tim, the more I became convinced that he’s got a message that the country really needs to hear right now.”

Haley Set for Iowa Town Hall Tour

Fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley is heading back to Iowa again later this week — on a town hall tour through central and eastern Iowa. The former South Carolina governor and declared Republican presidential candidate is scheduled to be in Ankeny, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Davenport.

Following the swing, Haley will have done more than 20 events in the Hawkeye State since announcing her candidacy in February. She’s also the first announced guest for U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s annual Roast and Ride in June, according to the Haley campaign. Ernst, Iowa’s junior U.S. senator, confirmed on Monday that former Vice President Mike Pence, who is mulling a run for the White House, will also be at the June 3 fundraiser. The motorcycle ride begins at 10:30 a.m. from Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines.

Ernst told KCCI she has invited all 2024 Republican presidential candidates and hopefuls.

“We’ll have so many of those presidential hopefuls there,” the senator said. “It’s a great opportunity for Iowans to hear directly from those candidates but also a great opportunity for the presidential hopefuls to interact with Iowans and hear directly from them what is most important when they’re looking for a presidential candidate.”

DeSantis Catches a Break

With DeSantis gearing up to announce his presidential campaign any day, German-owned Politico says the popular Florida governor got a break last weekend thanks to Iowa’s severe spring weather.

DeSantis made two campaign stops in Corn Country, at U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra’s (R-IA-04) picnic Saturday afternoon and at a state GOP fundraiser in Cedar Rapids that evening. Former President Donald Trump had a rally scheduled for Saturday evening in Des Moines, but had to cancel the outdoor event with tornado watches and warnings popping up all around the state.

Trump’s cancelation was a plus for DeSantis, who escaped being overshadowed by the far-ahead frontrunner in the GOP presidential nomination chase — a frontrunner who has made DeSantis bashing a fixture of his rallies.

“Though Trump is trouncing DeSantis in national polls, the gap isn’t quite as massive in Iowa,” German-owned Politico opined in a piece laying out the “5 things that went well for DeSantis in Iowa.”

“If the Florida governor can convince Iowans he’s the better bet to beat President Joe Biden — and parlay that momentum into strong performances in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — the current national polls may not matter much.”

The latest RealClearPolitics average of national Republican presidential candidate polls shows Trump (55%) with a 34.3 lead over DeSantis (20.7%). Pence is third with 6 percent, followed by Haley at 4 percent, Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy with 3.4 percent, and Scott at 2.3 percent. Several other declared and presumptive candidates — conservative talk show host Larry Elder, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson — lag the field.

Trump’s lead over DeSantis in Iowa is 18 percentage points, according to a new National Research Inc. poll commissioned by the Center for American Greatness. 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.

Meanwhile, Trump pollster McLaughlin & Associates latest poll finds Trump far outpacing DeSantis in Iowa. The former president garnered 54 percent support with DeSantis at 20 percent, according to the survey released last week.

Ramaswamy is running an America First 2.0 campaign, asserting he would take Trump policies — not necessarily his style— further. The multimillionaire entrepreneur also has the young candidate market effectively cornered as the first millennial Republican running for the White House. At 37, Ramaswamy is the youngest candidate in the crowded field by far, and that could definitely be an asset among voters tired of old guy presidents.

The Atlantic has taken notice. In a recent piece headlined, “A Bouncy, Fresh Brand of Trumpism,” reporter Elaine Godrey writes:

Vivek Ramaswamy is a tall man with tall hair. And last week, when he stood in front of a crowd in Iowa wearing a black T-shirt under a black blazer, he looked like Johnny Bravo delivering a TED Talk….

The 37-year-old businessman turned political candidate, who seemed to appear out of nowhere on the campaign trail, is now suddenly everywhere—including tied for third in GOP primary polling and, on Thursday night, at a campaign stop in the Des Moines metro area.

Ramaswamy and the Dallas County Republicans who hosted the town hall at Royal Flooring’s Urbandale show room, put the Republican Party youth movement front and center. They noted 70 attendees under 30 in attendance, and a campaign to bring home the suburban county’s young Republican vote.

Manchin Courts Iowans

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV.) has been a thorn in the extreme left side of his party, which, let’s face it, is really the only side Democrats are showing.

While Manchin has yet to announce a bid for president as a third-party candidate, Axios reports the senator is sending signals. The liberal publication reported:

Manchin took time from his busy Senate schedule to tell a gathering of Iowa business and community leaders Wednesday in D.C. that he’s “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate” — another hint that he’s considering a potential third-party presidential bid.

  • Back in the Senate, he released a statement vowing to oppose all President Biden’s EPA nominees over the administration’s “radical climate agenda.”
  • Manchin’s recent no-mercy campaign against Biden could be related to his potential re-election bid in deep-red West Virginia — but it’s also a sign of just how far he’s willing to go to blow up the president’s plans.

Iowa Democrats are mad at the Democratic National Committee for turning its back on the Hawkeye State. The DNC’s decision to bump Iowa from the front of the party presidential candidate nominating line makes Manchin a compelling voice in a state where many Democrats aren’t real keen on President Joe Biden to begin with.

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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Tim Scott” by Tim Scott. Photo “Joe Manchin” by Senator Joe Manchin III. Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Governor Ron DeSantis. Photo “Nikki Haley” by Nikki Haley. Background Photo “Iowa Capitol” by Danksergeant15. CC BY-SA 4.0.


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