WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Republicans in this Midwestern battleground fiercely miss having Donald Trump in the White House, but, when asked if they want the former president to seek reelection a second time, in 2024, hesitation abounds.
“That’s a good question,” said Jose Laracuent, 59, who lives in suburban Des Moines. “He set the bar in many ways, and I think there’s other politicians who can build on what he’s already built.” Laracuent’s wife, Shelley, was more decisive. “I’d like to see another generation.” Both spoke with the Washington Examiner while attending the annual Lincoln Dinner fundraising gala for the Iowa Republican Party, headlined by potential 2024 contender Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador.
Publicly, Trump is undecided on a third presidential bid, although he regularly alludes to another campaign. Privately, the former president is telling confidants he plans to run, and this month began hitting the road again for his signature rallies and pre-rally festivals. Trump remains extraordinarily popular with grassroots Republicans. Yet, there are signs even these loyal voters might want fresh leadership in 2024, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis topping Trump in a recent straw poll.
In Iowa, where Trump won big in the general election — twice, Republican activists are expressing a range of views on his political future. Some, like the Laracuents, would prefer the former president sit the next race out. Nearly eight months after Trump was defeated by President Joe Biden and slightly more than five months after he left office, many simply cannot make up their minds.
“I was very happy” with his presidency, Cheri Richards, 75, of Ottumwa, said. “He and I are exactly the same age, and so, I don’t know how that would play out.” Pressed on whether she wants him to run or would prefer he step aside to make way for new blood, Richards said: “I am unsure.” She believes Trump might stand down if he is confident his would-be successors are “genuine” conservative Republicans.
As elsewhere, Trump has retained the strong support of Republicans in Iowa despite losing reelection to Biden. Neither has refusing to concede nor the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol diminished the goodwill GOP voters have for him, according to a Des Moines Register poll conducted in mid-June. That suggests there is a strong faction of Republicans that hopes Trump runs for president again.
Indeed, about a half dozen of his supporters were waving Trump flags that read “still our president” along the street leading into the West Des Moines venue where the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner was being held on Thursday. State Rep. Martin L. Graber, who represents a southeast Iowa district in the legislature and attended the event, said Trump flags and campaign signs still dot the landscape of his three-hour drive from Lee County to Des Moines.
“When I’m coming up, I’m still seeing a whole bunch of Trump 2020 flags. I’m seeing Trump ’24 flags,” Graber said. “So, are there people — grassroots Republicans — that want Trump to run? Yes. Will he or not? That’s his call; that’s his choice. His family has been put though a lot.”
“If he runs,” Graber added, “I think he’ll be tough to beat in Iowa.”
Meanwhile, that next generation of Republicans is preparing for life after Trump — just in case. Since Trump left office in January, Iowa is seeing a traffic jam of potential 2024 contenders. Even GOP insiders in Iowa are surprised at how much attention they are receiving at this early stage.
More than a half-dozen Republicans with 2024 aspirations have traveled to Iowa this year or are scheduling appearances. In addition to Haley, they include Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who is also the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
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Original Author: David M. Drucker
Original Location: Republican voters not sure if they want Trump to run again
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