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Iowa's GOP leaders stand by Trump, who is more popular there than ever

Iowa's GOP leaders stand by Trump, who is more popular there than ever

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DES MOINES — Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds embraced Donald Trump’s return to Iowa over the weekend, standing by the former president as he repeated his false claims of voter fraud and a stolen election to a crowd of thousands.

The state’s senior senator, who recently announced plans to run for an eighth six-year term, praised Trump as he introduced him Saturday by noting there was “a great crowd honoring a great president of the United States.”

Neither Grassley nor Reynolds made any reference to Trump’s post-presidency, during which he has continued to say he was the election’s true winner and urge Republicans to conduct audits of the vote counts. Reynolds, also seeking reelection next year, offered praised for Trump in her brief remarks.

Trump is more popular in Iowa than ever before, according to a poll published last week. A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll showed that Trump received favorable ratings from 53% of Iowa voters and unfavorable ratings by 45%. It was his best showing in either metric in the poll, the Register reported.

Trump’s return to Iowa further stoked questions about whether he plans to run for president in 2024. Thus far, he has remained noncommittal. Trump’s “Save America” PAC organized Saturday’s rally.

Trump spent almost 30 minutes of the rally, his first in Iowa since his 2020 campaign, arguing falsely that he had won Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

“Trump won! Trump won! Trump won!” came the chant from the crowd spread across the sprawling Iowa state fairgrounds.

“He did. He did. Thank you,” Trump said.

Representatives for Grassley and Reynolds did not respond last week to requests for comment on whether they agreed with Trump’s statement on Wednesday that the “real insurrection” was the election, not the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters determined to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election.

Grassley, who voted to certify the election results, has been quiet about Trump’s continuing claims of a stolen election. Asked in July, he said: “On Dec. 12, after the electoral votes were cast, Biden is the president of the United States.”

Reynolds, when asked in January if she and other Republican leaders should have more quickly rejected false claims of election fraud, said people need to stop pointing fingers and move forward.

On Saturday, Trump endorsed Grassley and pledged to endorse Reynolds separately in the months ahead. After the endorsement, Grassley, 88, said: “I was born at night, but not last night.”

“So if I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart. I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement,” Grassley said, according to the Register.

Iowa Democrats have highlighted votes by Iowa Republicans in Congress in opposition to further investigation into the Jan. 6 attacks, in which rioters beat and bloodied an overwhelmed police force, sent lawmakers running for their lives and caused $1 million in damage. More than 630 people have been charged criminally in the riot.

“Republicans have tied themselves to a man who attacked the very foundation of our democracy throughout his time in office,” Iowa Democratic Party state chairman Ross Wilburn said last week.

This report includes material from Lee Enterprises.

This report includes material from Lee Enterprises.

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