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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Trump returning to Iowa for eighth campaign stop in little more than a month

GOP front-runner continues to skip Republican presidential debates


DES MOINES, Iowa — Donald Trump will headline his eighth campaign event in Iowa in a little more than a month on Sunday as part of the former president’s accelerated fall schedule leading up to the first-in-the-nation caucuses in January.

Trump’s planned speech at the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Sioux City, in GOP-heavy western Iowa, follows events Monday in New Hampshire and Saturday in Nevada. The Republican’s campaign has long tried to show its dominance over his rivals with big early-state victories.

The stop also comes after he was fined $10,000 by the judge in his New York civil fraud trial for violating an order prohibiting him from verbally attacking court personnel.

Son Donald Trump Jr. was in West Des Moines at the campaign’s state headquarters Thursday, where he applauded about 50 volunteers who were attending a caucus training session. The training was part of what Trump’s team has promised will be a more disciplined effort in Iowa than in 2016, when he finished second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

After his visit, Trump Jr. told reporters that the list of legal cases facing the former president will ultimately boosts his political cause.

“I think a lot of this stuff helps,” the younger Trump said. “If it was one thing that they picked and that they focused on, maybe there would be some merit. But the deluge … it just seems rather extreme.”

The former president has drawn roughly 14,000 people to events in eastern and central Iowa since late September, while other candidates in the 2024 race have competed for much smaller audiences as they try to emerge as the most viable alternative.

Trump has said he expects to win Iowa big as he defies the typical strategy of lowering expectations. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is campaigning aggressively in Iowa, has criticized Trump for skipping the series of Republican presidential debates and campaigning only before large audiences.

Trump will skip the third debate, scheduled for Nov. 8.

“Donald Trump’s not willing to show up. He’s missing in action right now,” DeSantis told CNN on Thursday.

While Trump’s appearances have drawn large crowds to gyms, event centers and hotel ballrooms, some of his recent statements at the onset of the war between Israel and Hamas have turned off would-be supporters.

Trump’s criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over what he described as insufficient support for the military strike on a top Iranian general in January 2020 was in poor taste, said the Rev. Joseph Brown, a politically active evangelical pastor in small-town Washington, Iowa.

“In a time of war, and great heartache and trial, criticizing the leadership of our strongest Middle Eastern ally?” Brown said. “This guy was in the middle of watching moms and dads weeping over their little babies who had just been killed.”