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Trump boosts Iowa candidates and teases presidential run at Sioux City rally

Donald Trump stands behind a red white and blue podium, wearing a Make America Great Again Hat and speaking into the microphone. His supporters sit captive in the background.
Charlie Neibergall
/
AP
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Thursday in Sioux City.

Former president Donald Trump teased another potential run for president at his Sioux City rally on Thursday night.

Trump’s visit to northwest Iowa, a heavily red part of the state, came as one of his last stops in his “Save America” rally series across the country. He endorsed Iowa Republican leaders Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds, trying to energize voters just five days ahead of Election Day.

Trump doled out high praise for both Grassley and Reynolds – urging voters to show up for what he called “critical” midterm elections. But, he didn’t leave without also hinting at plans to run in the 2024 presidential election.

Trump again pushed unproven claims of voter fraud and boasted about his past runs, before expressing interest in another run.

“In order to make our country successful and safe and glorious, I will very very very probably do it again, okay?” he said at the rally. “Very very probably. Very very probably.”

The proclamation riled up the crowd, which chanted his name in support. He told his supporters that he wouldn’t say any more, but he urged his fanbase to “Get ready. Soon.”

This echoes the language he used at a recent event in Texas, according to the Associated Press.

0319Grassley.jpg
John Pemble
/
IPR file
Sen. Chuck Grassley is in his tightest race since he took office.

Later in the evening, Trump welcomed Grassley onto the stage with him, shaking his head in admiration and calling the long-term senator “unbelievable.” He praised him for fighting for ethanol and his role in confirming Supreme Court justices like Brett Kavanaugh.

“This is a very special man. This is a really a national landmark and I don’t say that easily,” Trump said. “But America needs Chuck Grassley in the U.S. Senate.”

The senior senator is running for his eighth term in office. But this time around, Grassley is facing his tightest race for his seat since he took office in 1981. A recent Des Moines Register poll showed him just three points ahead of his Democratic challenger Mike Franken.

The Cook Political Report still deems the race as “likely” Republican. But, in previous election cycles, Grassley has had a more confident lead over opponents.

In a green John Deere hat, Grassley told the large crowd to make Trump’s trip to the state’s conservative stronghold “worthwhile” by heading to the polls on Election Day.

“You gotta get your family and friends to go vote if we want to make a big difference and get a Congress that will turn things around and stop these bad policies,” Grassley said.

Trump also took a jab at Franken, calling him weak on crime.

At his own campaign event in Des Moines on Thursday, the retired Navy admiral criticized Trump in his speech.

“We must be part of the solution. We can be part of the solution, but we must do it together. The era of what's happening in Sioux City is over,” he said.

A large crowd of people face the stage that Donald Trump speaks on. American flags fly and people cheer under a 'Save America' banner.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
Donald Trump drew a large crowd to Sioux City on Thursday.

Trump also put his weight behind Reynolds, welcoming her onstage with a hug. He praised her for cutting taxes and protecting Second Amendment rights.

Reynolds thanked Trump for fighting for Iowans when he was in office. She said the current administration under president Joe Biden has done the opposite in his two years in office.

“Iowans and Americans are fed up and we’re going to take our country back and it starts on November 8th,” she said.

Neither Trump nor Reynolds mentioned the Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear, but rather focused their attacks on President Joe Biden. A Des Moines Register poll shows the governor with a strong 17 point lead in the race.

Before Trump took the stage, local and national leaders – from Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kauffman to Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – stepped up to the microphone to largely express outrage at the current administration. Many focused their speeches on inflation and border security.

Those are the issues that are driving some Iowans like Jamie Amick to the polls. The Bronson resident said that current fuel and grocery prices are the evidence he needs to vote Republican in the upcoming midterm elections.

“There’s going to be a huge turnout here because they are ready for change back,” he said. “It’s out of control.”

IPR's Clay Masters contributed reporting.

Kendall is Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA.