8 Republican Candidates Roll In for Iowa Rally

All, minus Trump, speak at senator's yearly event
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2023 5:20 PM CDT
8 Republican Candidates Roll In for Iowa Rally
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, arrive at Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Amid plates of sliced pork, statement-making leather ensembles and piles of political T-shirts, eight Republican presidential hopefuls descended on Iowa on Saturday to pitch themselves to voters and—in Mike Pence's case—hop on a motorcycle. The former vice president and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were among the White House contenders appearing at a rally at the state fairgrounds near Des Moines, the AP reports. The event was hosted by US Sen. Joni Ernst. Her annual political event, the "Roast and Ride"—a combination barbecue-rally and motorcycle ride—kicks off the summer campaign season heading into the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses early next year.

Former President Donald Trump was notably absent after spending two days in the state this past week. He has largely avoided events that would have him share the stage with his 2024 rivals. DeSantis, with his wife, Casey, and three children in tow, chatted with voters, gave out autographs and signed the Bible of a man who thanked the governor for "standing up to Disney." Casey DeSantis wore a black leather jacket in 86-degree weather with the words "Where Woke Goes to Die" and an outline of Florida on the back. It brought to mind first lady Melania Trump's outerwear in 2018, when she famously sent a message with a hooded jacket that read "I really don't care do u" as she left the White House on a trip to visit migrant children in Texas.

Pence was the only White House hopeful who participated in a morning motorcycle ride for charity that is a staple of Ernst's event. The former Indiana governor, who has made frequent trips to Iowa over the past year, is expected to launch his campaign in Des Moines on Wednesday. At the fairgrounds, candidates gave speeches and chatted with barbecue-eating voters. Other candidates speaking included former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, US Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, author Vivek Ramaswamy, and talk radio host Larry Elder. Marie Andres of Des Moines signed a pledge to caucus for DeSantis. "Trump did a great job, but in my opinion, too much drama," the 74-year-old said. DeSantis, she thinks, is "the best we're going to get."

(More Republican candidates stories.)

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