Trump criticizes Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for ‘disloyalty’ as she plans to endorse DeSantis

By: - November 5, 2023 4:16 pm

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shows a mug he gifted to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 12, 2023. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Former President Donald Trump made a flurry of social media posts criticizing Gov. Kim Reynolds Sunday as the Iowa Republican is expected on Monday to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

The endorsement is an important win for DeSantis, who was 27 percentage points behind former President Donald Trump in the most recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll. He’s also tied at 16% with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Reynolds, popular with Iowa Republicans, may be an influential factor in the 2024 Iowa caucuses as DeSantis hopes to solidify his position as the most viable Trump alternative in the GOP presidential nomination process. The Des Moines Register first reported that Reynolds plans to endorse DeSantis.

The Iowa governor plans to speak at a campaign rally in Des Moines Monday with DeSantis, in addition to attending a meet-and-greet with the Florida governor Tuesday in Davenport. Reynolds will also head to Miami, Florida, Wednesday, where she plans to raise money for DeSantis’ campaign as he and other Republican candidates will compete on the Republican presidential debate stage.

Trump will not debate, but instead hold his own rally in Hialeah, Florida, 15 miles away from the debate in downtown Miami.

Reynolds’ endorsement of the fellow Republican governor has been expected by some in Iowa politics. Trump has criticized Reynolds for not endorsing him and appearing at events with DeSantis and other Republican presidential candidates including Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott. Trump chose to skip the Iowa governor’s “fair-side chat” series at the Iowa State Fair.

Trump’s campaign said in a news release that Reynolds “apparently has begun her retirement tour early as she clearly does not have any ambition for higher office.” Trump made multiple posts Sunday on Truth Social about Reynolds, criticizing her for planning to endorse DeSantis after previously saying she would remain neutral in the race.

Reynolds said in August that she planned to remain neutral to encourage all 2024 Republican presidential candidates to campaign in Iowa, but that she did not “want to rule it out down the road.”

Iowa governors typically remain neutral in the caucuses, but Branstad — who Reynolds served as lieutenant governor for from 2011 to 2017 — has previously endorsed candidates. In the 1996 Republican caucuses he endorsed Bob Dole. In 2016, Branstad said he hoped U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz would lose but waited until May to endorse Trump.

In one post, Trump said that “if and when” Reynolds endorses DeSantis, “it will be the end of her political career.”

“Two extremely disloyal people getting together is, however, a very beautiful thing to watch,” Trump wrote. “They can now remain loyal to each other because nobody else wants them!!!”

While Trump linked Reynolds’ lower favorability ratings in a recent Morning Consult poll to her “disloyalty,” the governor remains popular with Iowa Republicans. In an August Iowa Poll, Reynolds had an 81% favorability rating among likely GOP caucusgoers — higher than other elected Republicans like U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

DeSantis has highlighted his relationship with Reynolds on the Iowa caucus trail, and has often talked about the similarities between his and Reynolds’ approach to governance.

At an October event in Ankeny, the crowd cheered when an attendee asked if DeSantis would consider Reynolds for the vice presidency if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee.

“The answer to that question is yes, of course I would, because she’s a phenomenal governor,” DeSantis said. “But I also understand that can be a little touchy subject here in Iowa, because I know a lot of Iowans don’t want to lose her to Washington D.C. … Bottom line is, you know, I think you’d be a fool not to not to consider your governor.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.