Republican primary candidates flocked to the Midwest this weekend for appearances at the Iowa State Fair, where they hoped to drum up support in the pivotal first-in-the-nation primary state.
Former President Donald Trump made the biggest splash, flying in on his private jet with a group of Florida congressional backers in tow. The latter was a clear snub to Trump’s chief rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Once on the ground, Trump drew throngs of supporters.
Despite the fanfare, Trump was only at the fair for about 45 minutes. His appearance was in stark contrast to DeSantis, who is running a less flashy, but more rigorous ground game in Iowa.
DeSantis plans to visit all 99 Iowa counties this year. At the fair, he was seen flipping pork chops with popular Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and participated in her “fairside” chat.
She’s not the only Iowa influencer DeSantis has courted as an ally. On Friday, he received the endorsement of conservative talk show host Steve Deace, who has been described as an “Iowa Kingmaker.”
DeSantis currently has the backing of 120 county-level chairs across the state with at least one in every county. He also reportedly has over 10,000 Iowans agreeing to support him in the January caucus. But the question remains: will it be enough to beat Donald Trump is still leading by almost 30 points in the state?