Trump possibly hurts chances of victory in Iowa with surprising attack against Gov. Reynolds

 July 13, 2023

Former President Donald Trump, likely over a perceived display of disloyalty, launched a surprising attack this week against the popular Republican governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, The Hill reported.

That move could potentially undermine his chances of winning the Iowa caucuses next year and leave an opening for a rival Republican candidate to claim an early victory and gain crucial momentum in the 2024 GOP primary cycle.

Trump's attack against Reynolds

According to The Hill, former President Trump's unexpected broadside against Gov. Reynolds was likely triggered by her appearance at a campaign event for his chief Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as a recent article from the New York Times that highlighted supposed tension between the governor and former president.

The outlet noted that Reynolds had previously declared herself to be "neutral" with respect to the field of GOP presidential candidates, so as not to discourage any from campaigning in the state, and in addition to DeSantis has also appeared at an event for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Yet, it would appear that Trump views Reynolds' declared neutrality as a personal slight and display of disloyalty in terms of the credit he has claimed for her initial gubernatorial victory by way of his appointment of her predecessor, former Gov. Terry Branstad, to an ambassadorship, as evidenced in a post to his Truth Social account on Monday.

"I love Iowa, protected & expanded Ethanol, got 28 Billion Dollars from China for our great Farmers, ended the Estate (Death!) Tax on farms, made the best TRADE deals in history (USMCA, China, & many more), introduced the World to our FARMERS, & kept Iowa’s “'First in the Nation' status," Trump wrote.

He added, "I opened up the Governor position for Kim Reynolds, & when she fell behind, I ENDORSED her, did big Rallies, & she won. Now, she wants to remain 'NEUTRAL.' I don’t invite her to events! DeSanctus down 45 points!"

Attack backfires with influential conservatives

The Hill noted that Bob Vander Plaats, an influential conservative leader in the state, said of Trump's attack on Reynolds, "Forest Gump says, 'stupid is as stupid does.' My Mom says don’t call anyone, 'stupid.' So, I won’t. However, this isn’t smart. Iowa is wide open."

While that assessment is certainly possible, there are still many months to go before the Iowa caucuses, and the outlet noted that Trump still won the GOP nomination in 2016 after placing second in Iowa behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Also weighing in on the former president's critique of the governor was former Iowa GOP Chairman Cody Hoefort, who said, "Ok … so we shouldn’t remain neutral? Well then after this I’m out on the former President. It’s time for fresh leadership or shall I say actual leadership. I am open to support a new fresh leader who inspires others."

Trump leads in Iowa, where Reynolds also remains popular

For what it is worth, the Des Moines Register reported in March that Gov. Reynolds, despite slipping a few points since last year, maintained a 50 percent job approval rating and 51 percent favorability rating after cruising to re-election by nearly 20 points in the 2022 election.

Since that time, she has also achieved a number of substantial victories in terms of the conservative agenda, from cutting taxes and implementing school choice to prohibiting transgender operations and treatments for minors and banning sexually explicit materials from schools, among other things.

As for former President Trump, he holds a solid lead in Iowa of around 24 points over Gov. DeSantis, 47.7-23.7 percent, his only real competitor at this early point in the primary season, according to the RealClearPolitics average of the limited number of polls in the state.

Whether that margin changes, and by how much, following Trump's attack against Reynolds is something that will have to be monitored going forward.

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