Trump Attacks DeSantis in First Iowa Speech of 2024 Campaign

In his first speech of 2024 in Iowa, former President Donald Trump criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, reiterating claims from his 2020 campaign and attacking his potential political rival just days after the Republican's visit to the Hawkeye State.

During a campaign event in Davenport, which was promoted by Trump's campaign as a speech on education policy, the former president seemed to be more focused on topics other than America's schools.

He took the opportunity to brag about his role in "saving" the ethanol industry, and boasted about his decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Additionally, he revisited his unfounded allegation that he was deprived of a second term in the White House due to widespread voter fraud.

“What they do to those machines — what they’re doing, our country is really being hurt very badly,” Trump said to the supportive crowd.

The former president also targeted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024 as a rising star in the Republican party. Trump accused DeSantis of wanting to reduce funding for Social Security and Medicare, while also drawing comparisons between the Florida governor and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who was the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2012 and has been critical of Trump.

Trump further labeled DeSantis as a "disciple" of former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who was Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election.

“You have to remember, Ron was a disciple of Paul Ryan, who is a RINO loser who currently is destroying Fox [News] and would constantly vote against entitlements,” Trump said, with RINO standing for “Republican in name only.”

“But Ryan, Paul Ryan is a big reason Mitt Romney … lost his election,” Trump continued. “And to be honest with you, Ron reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney, so I don’t think you’re going to be doing so well here.”

During his first campaign stop in Iowa for the 2024 presidential election, Trump made these comments. Although he has been seeking the Republican nomination officially since November, he has mostly refrained from active campaigning.

Trump's visit to Davenport took place only three days after DeSantis visited the same city. A recent poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Mediacom among Iowa Republicans indicated a decline in Trump's popularity in the state, with only 47% saying they would certainly vote for him if he becomes the party's nominee in 2024. This marks a decrease of 22 points since June 2021.

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