Capital Clicks

Trump cancels outdoor Des Moines rally due to tornado watch

By: - May 13, 2023 5:16 pm

Former President Donald Trump canceled his rally at Water Works Park in Des Moines on May 13, 2023, because of potential severe weather. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Former President Donald Trump canceled his planned rally at Water Works Park in Des Moines Saturday because of potential severe weather conditions.

Trekking through muddy grass and headed back to their cars, attendees said they were disappointed the event was postponed. Video screens around the venue featured signs telling people the event was postponed, and to seek safe shelter.

Toni Taylor of Kelley said the tornado watch and rain were just part of Iowa weather.

Taylor said she plans to come back if the event is rescheduled for Des Moines soon, but that she was hoping to see Trump Saturday.

“I just need some good stuff, because there’s lots of crap, that’s all we get every day on everywhere else,” Taylor said. “Good vibes.”

Others traveled from much further to see Trump – visitors had traveled from states including Arkansas, Missouri and Texas to see the president speak in Iowa. Cassie Fletcher made the trip from Kansas City, Missouri, accompanied by her son Max, who bought tickets to the rally for them as a Mother’s Day present. It would have been their first time seeing Trump in person.

The Saturday event attracted national attention for coinciding with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ trip to Iowa – Trump’s potential top rival for the 2024 Republican ticket. DeSantis, who has not announced a presidential campaign, held an event in Sioux Center with U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra earlier Saturday, and another was scheduled in Cedar Rapids with the Iowa Republican Party.

During his last Iowa trip to Davenport, Trump said DeSantis’ voting record on ethanol and Social Security would cost him the 2024 Iowa caucuses.

But several people who came to the Trump rally said they were also considering supporting DeSantis or would vote for him over a Democratic opponent if he won the Republican presidential nomination. Fletcher said she considered heading up to Cedar Rapids to see DeSantis, but that she hoped to hear from Trump and experience a Trump rally live.

“I knew this took precedence for me,” Fletcher said. “But yeah, in the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘I wish (I could see DeSantis). But yeah, I just wanted to see (Trump) come out, first I wanted to see him dance, and then  … I’ve listened to him so much, but I don’t know, just something about the environment I really wanted to experience.”

Update: This story has been edited to clarify there was a tornado watch in place Saturday in the Des Moines area.

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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.