Trump wasted no time during his speech to continue his attacks against his chief Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
From the stage of a packed theater in downtown Davenport, Trump likened DeSantis to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a frequent punching bag for the Make America Great Again movement. Trump also charged that DeSantis voted against Medicare and Social Security while a congressman, calling him “a disciple of Paul Ryan, who was a RINO loser.” The acronym stands for ”Republican in name only."
A spokesman for DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the early phase of the 2024 campaign, Trump remains in a dominant position. But he faces notable challenges, including growing interest in the expected candidacy of DeSantis, who made his debut swing through Iowa last week.
Early polls show Trump remains widely popular among Iowa Republicans, though views of the former president have slipped somewhat since he left the White House. Now, 80% say they have a favorable rating of Trump, down slightly from 91% in September 2021, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released Friday.
The poll found DeSantis also gets a rosy review from Iowa Republicans, with 74% saying they have a favorable rating. Notably, DeSantis has high name recognition in a state over 1,000 miles away from his own; just 20% say they aren’t sure how to rate him.