(The Epoch Times)—Today, the nation, and world, will be watching what happens in Iowa, former President Donald Trump told his supporters at several recent rallies here.
While the former president and his team are hoping for a historically high margin of victory, temperatures are predicted to plummet to extreme lows. The National Weather Service issued a warning that wind chills could register as low as -40 degrees in central Iowa.
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Following an eventful two-week “blitz” of Iowa, the former president is riding high on a wave of new endorsements, the largest campaign event of the pre-caucus weekend, and historically high rankings in opinion polls.
The pivotal Iowa caucuses come just five days after former New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s exit from the race. He was drawing about 4 percent of voters in Iowa and said he saw no path to victory beyond Iowa.
His departure leaves President Trump to duke it out with the remaining trio of Republican rivals: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, and Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
All four of those presidential hopefuls had scheduled numerous campaign events. But life-threatening weather conditions–subzero temperatures, gale-force winds, and snow-swept, impassable roadways–disrupted plans and prompted cancellations. The candidates replaced some in-person events with online livestream appearances.
Revved and Ready
Months of groundwork–door-knocking, phone-calling, and leafleting–preceded the last-minute pushes.
By all accounts, President Trump’s campaign organization is much stronger and more well-developed now than it was in 2016. Then-candidate Donald Trump was a political newcomer and lacked much campaign structure.
Iowa Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, a Trump adviser, told The Epoch Times that, at last check, volunteers had collected 50,000 “commit-to-caucus” cards from voters.
The team also had lined up about 2,000 caucus captains, more than one for each of Iowa’s precincts, Mr. Kaufmann said. He and other members of President Trump’s team have expressed confidence that those efforts will pay off with a victory.
But President Trump has been counting on a big win to send a big message.
As he has acknowledged, the margin of victory in Iowa sets the stage for primary elections in other states, for the Republican nomination, and also for the crucial 2024 presidential election.
Virtually every poll shows President Trump outpacing his Republican rivals by historic proportions–nationally and in Iowa. That’s a seemingly enviable position but it’s also fraught with danger.
If his supporters assume victory is “in the bag,” they might feel their votes are unnecessary, potentially diminishing his vote totals.
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To combat that possibility, the former president and his allies have warned Iowans: Every vote matters, no matter what the polls say.
He also posted on Truth Social that Iowans should “be on the lookout for dirty tricks,” adding, “The Iowa Caucus is 100 percent ‘on’ for Monday night, January 15th. It will not be canceled or postponed under any circumstances … and you cannot be late!”
In Iowa polling, the former president holds almost a 34 percent lead over his nearest competitor, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
He was drawing 52 percent support, with Ms. Haley in a distant second at 18 percent. Following her were Mr. DeSantis with 16 percent and Mr. Ramaswamy at 7 percent.
If President Trump’s Caucus Night vote totals fall short of the expectations reflected in polls, his opponents will cite that as evidence that his candidacy isn’t as strong as it purports to be.
Mark Serrano, a 2020 Trump campaign adviser, anticipates how his critics will react.
“Before the first ballot has been cast, the media have already written their headlines for the Iowa caucuses: ‘Trump underperforms in Iowa,’” Mr. Serrano wrote in a Jan. 13 column for The Washington Times.
After Iowa gained status as the first-in-nation caucus for Republicans in 1976, the largest previous margin of victory in a competitive presidential caucus was 12 percent. That happened in 1988 when Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas beat televangelist Pat Robertson. Through the years, many other candidates won by margins of 3 percent or less.
Based on that context, if President Trump wins this year’s Iowa contest by at least 12 percent, he deserves accolades, Mr. Serrano said.
Especially because he overcame “every imaginable barrier, including unprecedented persecution weaponized by his chief opponent,” Mr. Serrano wrote. President Trump faces 91 criminal charges plus a series of civil cases targeting his family fortune.
“He has pulled off a political miracle,” Mr. Serrano wrote. “This is the real story. But it’s not the story you’ll read in the papers or hear from the pundits” after Caucus Night is over.
As Trump adviser Chris LaCivita told The Epoch Times and other media on Jan. 10: “A win is a win. But anything over 12 [percent margin] I think is a great night.”
Counting on ‘Hardy’ Iowans
On Sunday, President Trump ended his pitch to the Hawkeye State on a positive note.
His rally at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, attracted the biggest crowd of the pre-caucus weekend. A city fire official told The Epoch Times that 800 to 900 people filled a main room and an overflow room; enduring temperatures of -17 degrees to attend.
President Trump said he viewed that attendance as a sign that Iowans are “hardy” and would show up for Caucus Night when temperatures are predicted to be even colder.
He wore a white Trump Caucus Captain hat, symbolizing the importance of Caucus Night. During his 100-minute speech, he summed up reasons voters should choose him on their ballots.
President Trump touted successes during his first presidential term, including strengthening the economy, tightening the U.S. border, and improving foreign relations.
He outlined his platform for a second Trump administration, with his priorities including reversing President Biden’s ‘green’ energy policies, clamping down on illegal immigration, and neutralizing the political ‘weaponization’ of federal agencies against citizens.
‘Not Tough Enough?’
The former president sharpened his attacks on both Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis, pointing out that polls showed he is beating them in the states where they live. He implied that, if they can’t win in their home states, their candidacies are weak.
When Ms. Haley served as the United Nations ambassador during his administration, she “did a good job but she’s not right to be president … she’s not tough enough,” President Trump said. He cast Mr. DeSantis in a similar light. He also characterized them as disloyal people who cannot be trusted.
That followed his first-ever social media attack on Mr. Ramaswamy, who has positioned himself as a Trump-like candidate. In a Jan. 13 Truth Social post, President Trump couched Mr. Ramaswamy as disingenuous and accused him of “deceitful campaign tricks.”
But during his speech on Sunday, President Trump made no mention of Mr. Ramaswamy, who has made nearly 400 campaign stops in Iowa and gained a lot of respect for that effort, several Iowa voters told The Epoch Times.
Indianola rally attendee Terra Krachenfels, 46, told The Epoch Times that President Trump’s speech on Sunday effectively neutralized all the other candidates.
“His message was: Everybody else is done,” she said, adding that the enthusiasm and the crowd were “amazing,” despite a couple of hecklers who railed against President Trump’s wealth before security officers escorted them out of the venue.
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Backers Come Forward
In another development on Sunday, President Trump added to the feathers in his cap with several endorsements.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) announced they were supporting him. As a result, he has now won endorsements from more than half the Republicans in Congress.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who withdrew from the presidential race last month, joined the former president onstage in Indianola to announce his endorsement of him.
“Heartland states,” such as North Dakota and Iowa “were respected” under President Trump’s administration, Mr. Burgum said. “He cut red tape like no president has done before,” helping those states to improve economically.
The governor also declared: “Under President Trump, America was safe and prosperous.”
This marks the third time Mr. Burgum has endorsed the man who served as the 45th president and is now aiming to become the 47th. Some political insiders have insisted that Mr. Burgum could be a long-shot potential vice president pick for President Trump.
Colorado Sets Course
Capping off the night: Around 9 p.m. Eastern, the Colorado Republican Party announced that it had voted to endorse President Trump by a 65-percent margin.
That decision is particularly significant because that state’s Supreme Court had voted to remove President Trump from the 2024 primary ballot.
The court ruled that he had incited his supporters to wage an “insurrection” on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, amid an election fraud protest.
In response, the Colorado GOP challenged that decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider the case.
“On the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, the Colorado Republican Party wanted to give President Donald J. Trump a big send-off by enthusiastically endorsing him for President in November,” said Colorado Rep. Dave Williams, state Republican Party chairman, in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
“At the end of the day, Americans know Joe Biden is off his rocker and doesn’t have a clue how to address the needs of this country,” the chairman said. “The Colorado Republican Party is more than happy to stand with President Trump because he risked it all to stand for this country.”
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