The 2024 presidential election loomed in the background as former President Donald Trump and Iowa Republicans spoke at the “Save America Rally” at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday, Oct. 9.
The event came after other potential Republican contenders for the 2024 presidential election visited Iowa earlier this year. Vendors selling “Trump 2024” and “Trump 2021” shirts and other apparel lined the path to the venue, and the smell of fried foods and cigarette smoke was prominent. Most attendees of the rally wore some sort of “Make America Great Again” merchandise, some of which included the slogan “Deplorable Lives Matter” or obscene messages about President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Butch Marshall of Coulter, Iowa, said he attended the rally because of “the love of country, mostly.” He appeared to be excited to see the amount of young people attending.
“Every time I come to a rally, and this is my fourth, I see more and more young people,” Marshall said. “That’s a good thing because you guys are the next in line to keep this country free and vote for the right people.”
Trump’s candor was a frequent reason attendees of the rally cited for supporting him.
“His honesty — he says he’s going to do it and he does it. I trust him,” said Dean Beckler of Crawfordsville, Iowa.
Dean Beckler and his wife, Crystal Beckler, said they voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before switching parties to vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020.
“Obama campaigned on hope and change, and there was no hope and change. Obama lied,” Crystal Beckler said. “In Trump’s first inauguration speech, he said what he was going to do and he did it.”
Both Dean and Crystal said they plan on supporting Trump if he announces his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. The former president’s approval rating among Iowans reached a new high of 53 percent in the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, according to the Register.
The first speaker at the rally was Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem, who repeated false claims about the alleged illegitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Finchem was followed by Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann, who criticized the Des Moines Register as well as CNN and MSNBC.
“Here’s my message to constant negative news and MSNBC: One, get a life,” Kaufmann said. “Two, get journalistic ethics. Three, this state is red!”
Following Kaufmann was Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, who said that “we showed that Iowa is Trump country.” After Hinson’s remarks, Iowa U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks called on President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to resign in the wake of the American military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Other speakers at the rally included Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who grew up in Ankeny, IA, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“I need you to show up this November, next November and in November 2024,” Reynolds said. “That is how we save America.”
Trump spoke for about two hours, throughout which he criticized members of the media, the Biden administration’s immigration policies and other controversial issues.
“The latest Des Moines Register poll showed a 39 percent approval rating for Biden,” Trump said. “Who the hell is the 39 percent?”
Speakers at the rally criticized the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was planned in a February 2020 peace agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban and executed by the Biden administration in August.
“Leaving Afghanistan was a good thing, but we should have done it through strength and dignity, not weakness and surrender,” Trump said. “We won the first world war, we won the second world war, we couldn’t even withdraw from Afghanistan properly.”
After his speech, Trump endorsed Sen. Grassley’s 2022 campaign.
“I wouldn’t be a very smart man if I didn’t accept an endorsement from a man who has [a] 91 percent approval rating among Republicans,” Grassley said upon accepting the endorsement.