Trump flies over, sweeps through Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES — Former President Donald Trump swooped into the Iowa State Fair this weekend, drew big crowds and touted endorsements from a group of US House members from Florida — the state where his chief rival is governor. 

Three other GOP presidential candidates joined Governor Kim Reynolds for one of her Fair Side Chats Saturday morning. 38-year-old businessman Vivek Ramaswamy presented himself as the way for Republicans to win young voters and he rapped to an Eminem song as he left the stage.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley didn’t say Trump’s name, but offered this suggestion:  “It’s time for a new generational leader. It is time that we leave the negativity behind, the drama behind.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined Reynolds, too. A bit later, a reporter asked DeSantis about Trump’s refusal to sign a loyalty pledge to support whomever Republicans nominate in 2024.  “If someone’s not willing to do that, that just shows you their campaign is more about them than the broader public and the American people,” DeSantis said.

As DeSantis was at the Pork Tent on the fairgrounds, Trump’s plane flew overhead. DeSantis left, the crowd size grew and they erupted when Trump arrived at the same spot. Trump didn’t flip pork chops, but signed hats — and gave a couple of his hallmark red hats to two young girls hanging over the fence.  “I got ’em!” they screamed as the crowd cheered.

Trump then ducked into the Animal Learning Center. A WHO-TV reporter asked Trump why he wasn’t joining Governor Reynolds on the fairgrounds and Trump repeated his beef that Reynolds hasn’t endorsed him. “You know I helped the governor a lot. I won the race for the governor, but I like the governor,” Trump said. Reynolds has said she’s remaining neutral in order to welcome all the candidates — and she credits Iowa voters for her 2018 win.

DeSantis says Trump’s criticism of Reynolds is out of bounds. “Particularly in a state like Iowa which, you know, has not always been considered a red state. Just 10 years ago was more of a swing state,” DeSantis told reporters. “She has had a lot to do with changing that.”

Trump had several of the Floridians who’ve endorsed him speak to the crowd at a bar on the fairgrounds, then Trump left the crowd with this message:  “We’re way up in the polls in Iowa and all over the country, but we don’t want to take any chances. We’ll be back.”

Democrats Robert F. Kennedy, Junior and Marianne Williamson — who are running against President Biden — also campaigned at the fair this weekend.