DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s skeptical of polls which suggest former President Donald Trump has a significant lead among likely Iowa Caucus goers — and she says Ron DeSantis has the best shot at winning the presidency in 2024.
Reynolds spoke with Radio Iowa Wednesday, expanding on the reasons she endorsed DeSantis this week and shrugging off Trump’s criticism of the move. Reynolds revealed her family was “a little bit apprehensive” about the announcement. “It was nothing about the issues. I think they knew I was going to get some arrows, you know, and…some verbal assaults,” Reynolds said, before lowering her voice to whisper into Radio Iowa’s microphone: “It’s o.k. and I don’t care.”
Reynolds said Trump was the right person for Republicans eight years ago, but not today. “When he won he really turned things upside down and gave a voice, I think, to a lot of people that were so fed up with politics and he talked about this country and making it great,” Reynolds said, recounting ways in which she worked with the Trump Administration, “…but it’s just a different time.”
Reynolds and DeSantis have pursued very similar policy agendas as governors, like reopening schools in the fall during the first year of the pandemic and signing so-called “fetal heartbeat” bills that ban most abortions. Reynolds says savvy Iowans who plan to attend the Caucuses will begin to examine the Florida governor’s record and contrast that with Trump, who she says will never be able to win over some voters. “He’s very divisive. He’s very polarizing,” Reynolds said, “…and I just don’t to risk that.”
Reynolds says after remaining neutral for most of 2023, the field of candidates started to narrow and she decided to announce her pick. “I just really started looking at the candidates that I felt could win and had a great record not of ‘here is what I would do’ or ‘here is what I think I would do,’ but actually has a really great record of getting things done,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds says she was “looking very closely” at former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and called Haley to let her know she’d be endorsing DeSantis. Reynolds and Trump have not spoken since she introduced him at a Trump rally in Davenport in mid-March. Trump has said a lot about Reynolds on his Truth Social platform. though. Trump suggested her appearance Monday with DeSantis was the beginning of her retirement tour. “If this was about Kim Reynolds, I probably wouldn’t have weighed in,” Reynolds said. “It’s about this country and the 11 grandchildren I have at home.”
If Trump prevails and is the Republican Party’s 2024 nominee for president, he’ll have Reynolds’ backing. “Listen, I’m a Republican and so anybody’s going to be better than who we have in Biden,” Reynolds said, “and so whoever wins, I’m going to do everything I can to get them elected.”
The Iowa Caucuses will be held in 67 days. The 2024 General Election will be on November 5th.