With the Iowa caucus approaching, Republican candidates blanketed the state, courting voters this weekend.
“2024 is our final battle,” said former President Donald Trump, encouraging turnout even with dominant primary polling, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley compete to situate themselves as the better choice against President Joe Biden, leaning further into criticisms of Trump.
"The problem is he's now running in 2024, promising to do the exact same thing he promised in 16 and didn't deliver on,” said DeSantis.
"And God bless President Trump. He's been on a temper tantrum every day about me talking about things, and everything he's saying is not true, said Haley.
As voters in the first state considered their decision, Scripps News found Iowans expressing a range of perspectives at Smitty's Tenderloin Shop.
"My wife and I are going to participate in the Republican [Party], and we vote for Trump,” said local voter and owner of the restaurant, Ben Smith.
Smith says that “the leadership that he showed over the last four years" is the main reason he supports Trump.
For Smith and others there, the economy is top of mind.
As candidates honed in on the economy and border, they also canvassed against the backdrop of the third anniversary of the January 6th insurrection.
“I really was for a lot of stuff Trump did, but that was over the top for me, and I have no room for Trump at all,” said a local voter who attended the DeSantis rally.
“I think he will bring justice to allow the people that didn't have justice during January 6. There was a lot of people that just showed up, and they were there. They weren't there to cause harm,” said another voter who attended the Trump rally.
Trump claims "political witch hunt" as he faces charges and ballot challenges tied to his alleged role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
A stark contrast with Democrats starting 2024 with a campaign centered on the stakes of democracy and Trump's alleged role in January 6th.
“He's willing to sacrifice our democracy, put himself in power,” said President Biden.
Trump responded, “All he can talk about is we're a threat, but he's a threat to democracy.”
Trump also ramped up his political attacks, particularly against Haley.
Iowa's caucus is Jan. 15, with New Hampshire's primary up after that.
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