DeSantis speaks to hundreds in Iowa as Trump’s rally canceled

  • DeSantis says “stay tuned” for news of a 2024 announcement
  • The Florida governor took subtle swipes at Trump in his 30-minute speech
  • Trump's rally in Des Moines was canceled due to weather conditions

DES MOINES, Iowa (NewsNation) — Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were scheduled to appear in Iowa Saturday for dueling events.

Trump‘s rally in Des Moines, Iowa, was canceled due to weather conditions, which include a tornado watch.

Trump was supposed to rally supporters in the evening at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park. It would have been his second visit to Iowa since launching his 2024 campaign, marking his third bid for the White House. 

Earlier in the day, DeSantis and his wife Casey were featured guests at the 2022 Feenstra Family Picnic, an annual fundraiser hosted by U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa. More than three dozen Iowa state legislators were also in attendance.

DeSantis addressed a crowd of about 300 people at a classic car museum in Sioux Center, where he took subtle swipes at Trump and again called for the U.S.-Mexico border to be “shut down.”

DeSantis devoted much of his remarks to his embrace of conservative cultural priorities, including his opposition to diversity and equity programs in public schools and laws aimed at curtailing transgender rights.

“Governing is not about entertaining. Governing is not about building a brand or talking on social media and virtue signaling,” said DeSantis, “It’s ultimately about winning and producing results.”

When asked by NewsNation’s Kellie Meyer on Saturday when and if he would make a decision on 2024, DeSantis said, “No news yet but stay tuned.”

 In another indirect jab at Trump, DeSantis highlighted the GOP’s recent string of electoral losses.

“We must reject the culture of losing that has impact our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over,” DeSantis said. “If we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again.”

Trump’s campaign told NewsNation that he was going to keep Saturday’s speech focused on Iowa farmers and the end of Title 42, saying that letting it expire is “a total disaster for the country.”

Trump has a large lead over GOP hopefuls. According to a FiveThirtyEight poll, Trump leads with 52.1% of potential Republican primary voters and DeSantis follows with 22.5%.

Other potential GOP contenders are set to be in Iowa this weekend. NewsNation exclusively spoke to Vivek Ramaswamy, whose campaign arrived in Iowa on Friday.

He said Iowa isn’t just about ticking a box for him, this is somewhere he’s putting in the time and he thinks it is paying off. He’s also proposing to raise the legal voting age from 18 to 25, which he calls one of the most ambitious proposals of his campaign.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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