DES MOINES — The first event of the 2024 presidential campaign is nearly here. The Iowa Caucuses begin tonight at seven and the candidates spent the closing hours of the campaign dealing with blizzard conditions and bitter cold as they made their final pitches.
After canceling in-person events on Saturday, former President Donald Trump hosted a rally in Indianola Sunday and brought some guests on stage, including Doug Burgum, the North Dakota governor who dropped out of the race this fall. “I’m here to do something that none of the other presidential primary candidates have done and that’s to endorse Donald J. Trump for president of the United States of America,” Burgum said, to cheers.
Burgum praised Trump’s record as president and closed with a message to Iowa Caucus goers. “You have an opportunity to send a message to the nation,” Burgum said, “and send a message to the world.”
Trump cautioned his supporters not to be complacent. “So brave the weather and go out and save America,” Trump said, “because that’s what you’re doing.”
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley campaigned in Ames and Adel, but cancelled an in-person event in Dubuque, then held a telephone town hall with people who had registered to attend. “Iowa sets the tone for where the country goes when it comes to these elections,” Haley said. “There are no foregone conclusions, but we really have an opportunity to really get our country back.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke with Radio Iowa just before a Sunday night campaign rally in Ankeny. “This weekend’s been off the chart. We’re having people show up in this sub-freezing temperature,” DeSantis said. “I’ve got people knocking on doors in the snow.”
The Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” released this weekend showed Trump with a 28 point lead over Nikki Haley, who was in second place. DeSantis slipped to third in the Register’s Iowa Poll, with 16 percent, but among the top three candidates, a greater share of DeSantis supporters said they definitely plan to attend a Caucus tonight.