Iowa GOP senator left 'with a large bill' after Trump fails to show face at major fundraising event

Iowa GOP senator left 'with a large bill' after Trump fails to show face at major fundraising event
DAVENPORT, IOWA - OCTOBER 31: Senate candidate Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), L, signs a 'Keep America Great' hat for a President Donald Trump supporter at a campaign event at Dahl Auto Museum as part of her RV tour of Iowa on October 31, 2020 in Davenport, Iowa. Republican incumbent Ernst is in a tight race with Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield in the upcoming general election on November 3rd. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

For nearly 50 years, Iowa has maintained the privilege of holding the first presidential primary, making the rural state a critical part of candidates' campaigns.

Months before the 2020 election, The Economist noted "candidates who fare well in Iowa gain momentum that can propel their campaigns forward," while "candidates who fare poorly may find themselves starved of media attention, donations and volunteers."

Now, as candidates prepare for the 2024 election, they're expected to dedicate a portion of their campaigning endeavors to none other than — Iowa.

READ MORE: 'We like to be courted': Iowa GOP 'pretty open' to 2024 candidates besides Trump and DeSantis

During United States Senator Joni Ernst's (R-Iowa) annual "Roast and Ride" fundraising event last month in Des Moines, The Independent reports, eight Republican presidential candidates made appearances — but not former President Donald Trump.

Per The Independent, prior to the event, although the former president confirmed he would not be in attendance, he "had expressed interest in sending videotaped remarks to be played for the crowd," but never did, "allegedly leaving Ms Ernst's operation with a large bill that was wasted on renting screens for the purpose of showing the tape."

In February, The Wall Street Journal reported the Iowa GOP was looking to widen the playing field as they consider their choice for nominee, noting Trump had failed to make an Iowa appearance since his campaign announcement in November of 2022.

Steve Scheffler, an Iowa native and Republican National Committee (RNC) member asserted the former president "will have to spend time" in the state "like everyone else."

READ MORE: 'Pretty big crowd': DeSantis out-stumps Trump in Iowa

Then, in May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appeared in Iowa turning out troves of Republican voters the same weekend Trump was set to hold a rally there — but cancelled due to a storm warning.

Still, regarding Ernst's Roast and Ride event, Des Moines Register reports:

Despite his absence, Trump's presence was very much still felt in Iowa Saturday. His supporters roamed the grounds in Trump gear, including the classic 'Make America Great Again' red hat. And as some Iowans returned to the parking lot, they found pamphlets featuring Trump's image which stated 'Iowa is Trump Country' tucked underneath their windshield wipers.

However, The Independent also notes Trump "also potentially ruined the senator's plan to use a motorcycle helmet signed by all of the Republican candidates to sell tickets to the event," adding, "The event organisers sent the helmet to Mr Trump, who returned it later than expected and had added the numbers '45' and '47,' signaling he would be the next president."

But, according to the report, "the helmet was never used."

During the event, GOP candidate former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said, "It's time for a new-generation leader. We've got to leave the baggage of the negativity behind."

READ MORE: 'People are mad': Trump surging among 'fired up' Iowa Republicans as legal woes mount

The Independent's full report is available at this link. The Economist's report is here. Des Moines Register's report is here.

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