Donald Trump and his presumptive top rival in the GOP have now both checked off an obligatory duty: visiting Iowa. Days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in the state, Trump visited on Monday, and NPR takes note of the contrast in styles at this point in the race. For one thing, DeSantis continues to largely avoid direct criticism of Trump, though the former president went after the governor by name on Monday.
- "Ron was a disciple of Paul Ryan, who was a RINO loser who is currently destroying Fox," Trump said, referring to a "Republican In Name Only." "But Ryan, Paul Ryan is a big reason Mitt Romney ... lost his election," Trump continued, per the Hill. "And to be honest with you, Ron reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney, so I don't think you're going to be doing so well here."
- Trump also said DeSantis wanted to "decimate" Social Security and Medicare, programs Trump has promised to protect, reports the New York Times.
- The above coverage notes that both candidates seem to have the support of a large swath of voters in the state. The Times quotes one attendee of Trump's speech, who summed up that sentiment: "They both stand for strong Christian values and common sense," said a 54-year-old female physician. "I wish they could run together."
- However, a recent Des Moines Register poll suggests trouble for the former president. The number of Iowans who say they'd "definitely" vote for him has dropped from 69% in 2021 to 47% today. He and DeSantis have similar favorability numbers in the poll, with Trump at around 80% and DeSantis at 74%.
- DeSantis, meanwhile, voiced an opinion to Fox News on Monday that's at odds with GOP leadership but in sync with Trump, per NBC News. "While the US has many vital national interests ... becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them," he said. He also criticized the Biden's administration "blank check" to support Ukraine. Trump has similarly said he views Ukraine as mostly a problem for Europe, not the US.
(On his way to Iowa, Trump blamed the Jan. 6 violence on Mike Pence