WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign wants first-time Iowa caucusgoers to come out in force next month in a bid to blow out the GOP competition and end the Republican nominating contest as soon as it starts.
The plan — which is unique to the Hawkeye State and which campaign officials have dubbed “10 for Trump” — involves surrogates of the 77-year-old, or “caucus captains,” targeting 10 new caucusgoers each ahead of Jan. 15.
Sometimes, the former president calls the would-be supporters himself to convince them to brave the Midwestern cold and give him their backing, senior campaign officials told reporters Monday at Trump’s golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla.
According to the RealClearPolitics average, Trump leads his nearest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 32 percentage points in Iowa.
Since 1972, no Republican candidate has won a contested caucus by more than 12 percentage points, the margin by which Bob Dole defeated Pat Robertson in 1988.
“If we set a record, we think that sends a strong message,” one Trump campaign official said.
Of the former president’s main rivals, the 45-year-old DeSantis has put the most time and energy into Iowa, visiting all of the state’s 99 counties and transferring dozens of staffers there from Florida. The governor’s campaign has insisted that an unlikely caucuses win would solidify the race as a straight shootout between Trump and DeSantis.
Meanwhile, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has only said she needs “to have a good showing” in the caucuses, as polls show her closing the gap on Trump in New Hampshire ahead of that state’s Jan. 23 primary.
The former president also spoke to reporters after a round of golf on Monday, saying a blowout win in Iowa would confirm his “strength.”
“It would be a message of strength and respect. We want to be respected around the world,” said Trump, adding that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had said adversaries like Russia and China were “afraid of Trump.”
“The other thing I’d like people to think about is unity,” he added. “It may sound strange but we were, just prior to COVID coming in, we were united. Everyone was successful. It was the most successful period of time we ever had in the country.”
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