Iowa Republican leaders praise Trump’s legacy in Des Moines rally

By: - October 9, 2021 8:31 pm

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson speaks at a Des Moines rally for former President Donald Trump on Oct. 9, 2021. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Former President Donald Trump has not officially announced if he will run in 2024, but Iowa Republican leaders still had glowing things to say about him during a Saturday trip to Des Moines. 

“This trend that Donald Trump started has turned this party into a blue-collar party, has turned this party into an individual rights party,” Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann yelled to a cheering crowd. “We are on a roll!”

Thousands of people gathered at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday night for Trump’s “Save America” rally. Iowa’s Republican leaders focused on Trump’s legacy as they urged people to vote in upcoming elections. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley asked if the crowd was better off now than they were during Trump’s administration.

“We gotta get control of the House and the Senate in the 2022 elections, and that’s what I’m about,” Grassley said, asking attendees to “work hard” for the entire Republican ticket.

Grassley also spoke about appointing conservative judges to the Supreme Court. Grassley chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee under Trump. 

“Our six-to-three majority there is very very important to save the constitution and save the country,” Grassley said. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds told the crowd it was imperative that they vote in 2024 — despite the fact that top Republicans have yet to officially declare their candidacy. 

“2024 is a few years away, but I’m here to tell you that the work starts right now,” Reynolds said. “If you show up, we win.”

Reynolds was a fan-favorite among the thousands of attendees. While some people jeered at Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Grassley, calling them “RINOs,” Reynolds was met with a standing ovation. 

As she touted her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the audience was especially enthusiastic. 

“I’m proud to be a governor … who believes that parents know best what’s for their children,” she said, as the crowd whooped and stood.

Republicans emphasized that Iowa, traditionally a swing state, is now firmly conservative. 

“Iowa is Trump country,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson.

Hinson criticized Democrats for mounting an “all-out assault on our rural way of life here in Iowa” and said she missed Trump’s “real leadership.”

Kaufmann gave a high-energy speech, yelling “This state is red!” as the crowd cheered back. He cited a September Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll where Trump had 91% support among Republicans and his highest approval rating of all time. 

“Iowa is going to lead the way, as we have before. The Republican Party of Iowa is going to lead the way. Our office holders are going to lead the way,” Kaufmann promised. “And together, we are going to rebuild this country!”

Iowa Democrats criticized the Republicans for aligning with Trump, especially after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“Iowa Republicans have tied themselves to a man who attacked the foundations of our democracy throughout his time in office … Iowa Republicans must answer for their silence and role in enabling right-wing extremists,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.