In a surprise appearance that delighted his fans and supporters in the Hawkeye state, former President Donald Trump turned up at pre-game festivities ahead of the Iowa State vs. Iowa rivalry football game on Saturday, as Breitbart reports.
Trump is working hard to court voter support in the early caucus state, despite the fact that he holds a significant lead among likely Republican voters there, as a recent Iowa State University survey revealed, according to the Daily Mail.
As the Mail further noted, Trump immersed himself in the festive environment that prevailed in Des Moines, as the in-state rivals prepared to take the field.
The former president paid a fun-filled visit to the Alpha Gamma Rho agricultural fraternity at Iowa State, tossing footballs to the crowd and posing for photos with members of the organization.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung took to X (formerly Twitter) to chronicle the event, writing jocularly, “The scouting report on @realDonaldTrump is that he has an absolute cannon of an arm!”
Fraternity brothers on hand for the party were heard shouting “Donald” with great enthusiasm as he autographed balls before hurling them into the student horde, and the GOP primary frontrunner was also seen flipping burgers for eager tailgaters.
Candidates descend on Des Moines
As Des Moines CBS affiliate KCCI noted, Trump was by no means the only Republican presidential hopeful to make an appearance at the football game on Saturday.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was seen campaigning outside Jack Trice Stadium, taking pains to downplay recent polling that places him at the very back of the pack. “I'm an underdog in this race, and I want underdogs to win,” he said, referencing the day's gridiron contest.
Also in attendance on Saturday was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who met with football fans at a series of tailgate parties before heading to the stadium to watch the game with the state's Republican governor, Kim Reynolds.
Asserting that he has what it takes to surpass Trump's level of support in the state, DeSantis said, “We vote in January, and so everything you're doing is mobilizing what you need to do. People are recognizing what we've done here has been very effective. We've got a lot more to do, but we're actually putting in the work that you need to do to be able to win.”
The latest Civiqs/Iowa State University poll on the state of the GOP primary race revealed that Trump has 51% support among likely voters, suggesting an uphill battle for any of those hoping to overtake him anytime soon.
Though DeSantis took second place in the survey, he trails Trump by a whopping 37%, pulling just 14% support in among participants.
As Breitbart notes, DeSantis once signaled that Iowa was a must-win state in terms of his presidential ambitions, but his campaign recently suggested that a “strong second” could suffice to keep his bid alive.
According to Politico, a DeSantis campaign official recently posited that there was in fact no such thing as a make-or-break state in the primary process, but with the candidate's numbers continuing on their currently unimpressive track, the calculus that led to that statement may already be essentially moot.
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