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Former President Donald Trump to hold rally in Des Moines this weekend

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Former President Donald Trump to campaign in Iowa this weekend

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)- Former President Donald Trump will return to the Hawkeye State on Saturday to rally supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. 

The Former President will be joined by, among others, Governor Kim Reynolds, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson and Dr. Marianette Miller-Meeks, and Senator Chuck Grassley.

"It is going to be good for our base," Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said. "It is going to be good for a shot of enthusiasm."

Doors open at 2:00 p.m., and Trump will take the stage at 7. Trump's last Iowa appearance was in November 2020, just before the election. Tickets for the rally can be found on the former President's website.

"What he's doing is trying to do is maybe crowd out anybody else who's thinking about running because he wants to make sure that he still stays relevant among likely Republican caucus-goers," KWWL's political analyst, Dr. Chris Larimer, a professor of political science and the coordinator for the Master of Public Policy program at UNI said. "He is trying to stay in the limelight just in case he runs in Iowa."

Over the last several weeks, a handful of high-profile Republicans who are eyeing 2024 presidential runs have traveled to Iowa, home to the first in the nation presidential caucus.

2016 Iowa Caucus winner Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, and Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have campaigned for Iowa Republican lawmakers. Kaufmann said he couldn't remember a time when this many prominent Republicans visited so early in the cycle. He hopes it is boosting excitement among the Republican base.

"It feels like a groundswell," he said. "We are not even going to start surfing till 2022, but we've got some good waves out there right now."

Since the 2008 presidential cycle, Larimer said it has become common for potential presidential candidates to start making trips to Iowa two to three years before the Iowa Caucuses.

"There's so much emphasis on getting a good jump in the nomination process and trying to build a good organization," Larimer said. "I think every candidate now is trying to get their name out there, build an organization in terms of campaign offices, line up campaign staff, and get all the parts of a campaign organization lined up as early as possible to try to do as well as possible."

In recent years, candidates have spent upwards of 100 days in Iowa leading up to the caucus.

"Iowa is still a state where the sort of lesser-known candidate can do well, but he or she also feels like he or she has to be in the state for 70, 80, 90, or 100 plus days to do well or be a front runner," Larimer said. 

Kaufmann said the train of high-profile Republican politicians is also part of a strategy to ensure the Iowa Caucuses remain first in the nation.

"That strengthens my hand at the RNC," Kaufmann said. "If I've got the actual people that are going to be running for president showing up in Iowa, I can just sit back and smile and not get in the way."

He has asked President Trump to re-affirm his support during his rally on Saturday night.

The 2020 election was a resounding defeat for Iowa Democrats but far from a knockout blow. The results highlighted and, in some cases, deepened the state's urban-rural divide. In 2016, 31 of the state's 99 counties flipped for President Trump. Every one of them went for the President again this time around.

"We are in this for the long game, not short-term political gain," House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said. "That means making sure that we're taking care of Iowans on what they need every day."

After the election, Democratic leaders said the party did not do enough to reach out to voters in rural communities and small towns.

"For now, we're just on reminding Iowans why Donald Trump is not just bad for Iowa, but he's toxic for our democracy," Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said. 

Keeping Iowa's first in the nation status is also a top priority for Democratic party leaders. Kaufmann said he and Wilburn talk to one another about it often and have had conversations with leaders in surrounding states.

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