Trump, DeSantis, and GOP Heavyweights to Headline Iowa's 2024 Lincoln Day Dinner
Trump, DeSantis, and GOP Heavyweights to Headline Iowa's 2024 Lincoln Day Dinner

Akeny: At a crucial time for the Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump and rival Ron DeSantis will make their first joint appearance on Friday at a campaign event in early voting Iowa.

A day after being charged with additional counts related to his retention of classified documents after leaving office, Trump, the early front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2024, is making a rare appearance alongside the rest of the field at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser. He is also preparing to face charges in Washington for his attempts to rig the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has typically shunned appearances at gatherings that require him to queue alongside the rest of the throng and has questioned why he should share the stage with his lagging competitors.

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But with less than six months until Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, Trump and a dozen other GOP contenders are utilising the opportunity to address about 1,200 GOP members and activists at Friday's Lincoln Day Dinner.

DeSantis, Trump's main opponent, has been attempting to restart his stalled campaign for the past two weeks. He came back to Iowa on Thursday, where his campaign is putting more of its energy into trying to stop Trump.

Given DeSantis' missteps, it's possible that another candidate could rise above the crowded field and overtake the former president. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina's upbeat message and preacher-like delivery have been cited by some evangelicals, who are influential in the state's caucuses, as assets that could help him win.

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The Republican governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, and a few hundred attendees attended Scott's town hall meeting on Thursday night in Ankeny. Many of the attendees were compelled to stand in the room's corners. The senator answered about a dozen questions as he elicited cheers, head nods, and amens.

Even though they aren't yet certain who they will support, many in the room expressed that they were impressed by his positions and his upbeat outlook.
There's nothing bad coming from this guy, according to Tony Vola, 76, of Saylor Township, a Des Moines suburb. Scott, he said, is an expert in his field and has a "fantastic" personality. He's a real guy, by God.

DeSantis began a two-day bus tour on Thursday that was planned by a super PAC backing his campaign. DeSantis has promised to eventually visit all 99 counties in Iowa.
In the Hawkeye State, "no one will outwork Ron DeSantis, and he is just getting started," according to campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo.
But it does so amid new concerns about his approach and course of action.

The governor reduced the size of his campaign staff by more than a third after his fundraising reports revealed that he was wasting donations. Semafor was the first to report that one of the fired staff members had posted a video with DeSantis' face overlaid on a Nazi symbol.

His financial difficulties appear to be forcing the campaign to rely even more on Never Back Down's efforts to handle the tasks usually handled by campaign staff.

Super PACs are allowed to accept an unlimited amount of money from donors, but federal regulations prohibit them from supporting candidates or working with campaigns to spend that money.

While super PACs have contributed to presidential campaigns in the past, frequently using larger budgets to run pricey television advertisements, the work Never Back Down has done to support DeSantis has been more extensive.

The group has been putting effort into organising locally, including gathering DeSantis' caucus supporters. Additionally, while candidates before him have attended events hosted by super PACs, DeSantis is starting the bus tour as the organization's "special guest."

Other campaigns are handling this task themselves, but Never Back Down is hosting a reception for DeSantis supporters right after Friday's dinner.

When asked how the arrangement complies with federal laws, the DeSantis campaign and Never Back Down both defended the arrangement.

In order to put Ron DeSantis in the best possible position to win this primary and unseat the Harris-Biden administration, Romeo, the DeSantis campaign spokesperson, said, "We will continue to use our resources wisely by accepting special guest invitations."

There have been many years of precedent for Super PACs hosting candidates and other people as special guests at events, according to Jess Szymanski, a spokesperson for Never Back Down.

DeSantis has also recently defended the state of Florida's new Black history curriculum, which mandates that teachers teach middle school students that people who were held in slavery "developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit."

DeSantis has come under fire from educators and civil rights activists, and he engaged in a public argument with Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, a Black Republican congressman who expressed dissatisfaction with that subject matter.

In an interview with CBS News on Thursday, DeSantis said, "I'd ask all my colleagues in Florida: Stand up for your state." "Don't take Kamala Harris' side."

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On Friday, Harris will also be in Iowa to contrast herself with the Republicans. The Democratic vice president will meet with activists in Des Moines to talk about abortion rights. A ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy was recently signed by Reynolds. The law has been temporarily blocked by a judge, but the governor has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to reinstate it.

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