'Pretty big crowd': DeSantis out-stumps Trump in Iowa
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis turned out troves of GOP voters during his trip to Iowa over the weekend, ramping up competition with his potential 2024 GOP opponent former President Donald Trump,The New York Times reports.
The former president was scheduled to hold a rally in Des Moines Saturday, but cancelled due to a storm warning.
However, DeSantis showed to host not just one event, but two, on what Never Back Down — the governor's super PAC's communications director Erin Perrine tweeted was "a beautiful Iowa evening."
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Despite the unforeseen — albeit indirect — jab at Jethro's, the governor is unlikely to criticize Mr. Trump directly until after he formally announces his campaign, according to two people familiar with his political operation. And even when he does jump into the race, which is expected to happen imminently, he will largely focus on contrasting his record with Mr. Trump's — particularly on issues like the coronavirus pandemic — while making the case that he is the candidate better equipped to defeat President Biden in a general election.
"If we make this election about a referendum on Joe Biden and his failed policies, and we provide a positive alternative to take America in a new direction, I think Republicans will win across the board," DeSantis said during a Saturday fundraiser in Cedar Rapids, which aired on Fox News.
Referring to the countless jabs DeSantis has received from his main potential opponent over the last few months, former Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) campaign manager Terry Sullivan said, "If someone’s punching you in the face, you better punch them back."
Mr. DeSantis needs to string together many more days like Saturday in a campaign that will rely heavily on winning the Iowa caucus early next year. But Republican activists in the state say there is an opening with caucus-goers for someone other than Mr. Trump. And the visit Saturday, where he also traveled to Sioux Center — populated by Christian conservatives whose support he must gain — was seen as a positive development by Republicans who want to defeat Mr. Trump but have been dismayed by Mr. DeSantis's stumbles as he steps onto the national stage.
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Conservative podcast host Steve Deace, who attended a DeSantis gathering at a local BBQ restaurant, tweeted Sunday, "We're all outside on a nice night. Pretty big crowd too. No severe weather in sight. Planes landing and taking off as scheduled."
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The New York Times' full report is available at this link (subscription required).
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