The race for the Republican nomination for the presidency is gearing up to be a fiery battle between two key candidates: President Trump and Ron DeSantis.
Both political heavyweights are setting their sights on winning the February caucuses in Iowa to strengthen their positions in the GOP.
With the caucuses potentially offering the chance to secure their positions atop the party, both men are whipping up their grassroots support in the Hawkeye State.
Trump has been ramping up his attacks on DeSantis, criticizing his stance on entitlement reform, his loyalty to conservative causes, and even his character.
DeSantis, in turn, has launched a counter-offensive by creating his own super PAC called Never Back Down, which has begun airing paid ads to combat Trump’s accusations.
Trump is taking a new strategic approach in Iowa this year, having been criticized in the past for his lack of ground-level organizing efforts during his 2016 campaign. He has been holding rallies to identify caucus supporters and volunteers, with a recent one taking place in Des Moines.
Meanwhile, DeSantis is also trying to secure his position by hiring Iowa staff to begin organizing support for him ahead of his anticipated White House bid. His super PAC has named Iowa Republican operatives to its roster, including Ryan Koopmans, former chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Iowa is seen as a critical battleground for presidential hopefuls, largely due to the fact that the caucuses have historically served as a bellwether for a candidate’s national prospects. In 2016, Trump’s Iowa campaign was widely regarded as poorly managed, with some 10,000 Iowans left unprocessed ahead of the caucuses.
This time around, Trump’s team is drawing on data from not only his 2016 campaign but also from two national campaigns to develop a robust digital engagement strategy they believe will give him an edge in the caucuses. Winning Iowa is seen as essential for Trump, who carried the state handily in both the 2016 and 2020 general elections.
As both Trump and DeSantis up the ante in Iowa, the race promises to be fiercely contested. Winning the caucuses and securing a prominent position as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination is crucial for both candidates.
Failure to do so would present other GOP hopefuls with an opportunity to launch their own campaigns and challenge the status quo.