The Dallas Morning News
Trump ups attacks on Desantis
Meanwhile, his Iowa team tries to improve on performance in ’16
A month before Iowa’s 2016 presidential caucuses, mountains of so-called pledge cards sat in the corner of former President Donald Trump’s suburban Des Moines state headquarters. The pile contained the names and contact information of roughly 10,000 Iowans who attended Trump campaign events and responded by returning the cards suggesting they were open to backing the reality television star who was now seeking the White House.
In what’s considered political malpractice by Iowa standards, those who returned the cards received no follow-up contact from the campaign.
“None of that data was used. None of it was entered,” said Alex Latcham, the former political director for the Iowa Republican Party and now Trump’s early-voting state director. “And those people weren’t encouraged or mobilized to caucus.”
As Trump returned to Iowa on Monday, he and his team aimed for a more disciplined approach, focused especially on building the data and digital engagement he will need to persuade Iowans to traipse through the cold and snow early next year to participate in the caucuses.
He’s also intensifying his attacks against his chief Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
From the stage of a packed theater in downtown Davenport, Trump likened Desantis to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a frequent punching bag for the “Make America Great Again” movement. Trump also charged that Desantis voted against Medicare and Social Security while a congressman, calling him “a disciple of Paul Ryan, who was a RINO loser.” The acronym stands for “Republican in name only.”
A spokesman for Desantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the early phase of the 2024 campaign, Trump remains in a dominant position. But he faces notable challenges, including growing interest in the expected candidacy of Desantis, who made his debut swing through Iowa last week.
Before delivering an education policy speech in Davenport, Trump briefly stopped at the Machine Shed Restaurant, posing for pictures with diners and making small talk with wait staff. The former president devoted little time to such “retail politics” in past campaigns.
The campaign said it collected nearly 8,000 names, addresses and emails of would-be supporters related to Monday’s formal event, which brought thousands of people to downtown Davenport.
Before the speech, the campaign also rolled out a list of endorsements from eastern Iowa elected officials, including state representatives and state senators.