DES MOINES — Donald Trump arrived in Iowa on Saturday with, according to a key poll, a better favorability rating than he ever had here while he was president.
Trump held an evening rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday, his first public appearance in Iowa since just before the 2016 election.
Trump, who won that 2016 election and then lost his 2020 re-election bid — despite his ongoing claims to the contrary — returned to Iowa more popular with voters here than ever.
In a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll published early this week, Trump was rated favorable by 53% of Iowa voters and unfavorable by 45%. It was his best showing in either metric in the poll, the Register reported.
Trump referenced the poll during an interview this week on a conservative radio program on WHO-AM radio in Des Moines.
“The people of Iowa are going to be very happy and we’ll have a great time at the rally,” Trump said.
Thousands of people poured into the Iowa State Fairgrounds on an overcast but unseasonably warm October Saturday in Iowa, many of them arriving at least five hours before Trump was scheduled to take the stage.
In order to appease any concerned University of Iowa football fans among the Trump faithful, rally organizers showed the highly anticipated game between No. 3-ranked Iowa and No. 4-ranked Penn State, which kicked off just after 3 p.m., on a big screen on the event grounds.
Trump’s return to Iowa will further stoke questions about whether he plans to run for president in 2024. Thus far, Trump has remained noncommittal, and he declined to answer the question during that radio interview.
Trump’s “Save America” PAC, which organized Saturday’s rally, said the event “is a continuation of President Trump’s many appearances in support of candidates and causes that further the MAGA legacy and accomplishments of President Trump’s Administration.”
Iowa Republican officials scheduled to speak before Trump included Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker, and state ag secretary Mike Naig.
Iowa Democrats this week highlighted Trump’s relentless and widely disproved claim of massive voter fraud in his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden. Democrats also noted Trump’s role in the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol, where Trump supporters violently stormed the building in an attempt to stop the official certification of those election results.
And in extending that criticism, Iowa Democrats also highlighted votes by Iowa Republicans in Congress in opposition to further Congressional investigation into those attacks, which resulted in the deaths of at least four people.
“Republicans have tied themselves to a man who attacked the very foundation of our democracy throughout his time in office,” Iowa Democratic Party state chairman Ross Wilburn said this week. “Gov. Reynolds, Sen. Grassley, Congresswomen Hinson and Miller-Meeks and the entire Republican Party of Iowa need to decide if they plan to stand with Iowans as we fight for our American values, or if they will continue to stand by a man with a complete disregard for our constitution and the rule of law.”
Trump shows no signs of relinquishing his false claims about the 2020 election. During that radio interview this week, he brought the topic up unprompted when asked how he would fare against other Republicans in a presidential primary campaign.
“I’m just going by what I see and what I hear. We ran two elections and we won them both,” Trump said, obviously inaccurately. “The people of Iowa understand it. It was a rigged election, a very sad election for our country.”
Dozens of failed lawsuits and post-election ballot reviews across the country have proved time and again that there was no widespread election fraud in 2020.