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Trump and DeSantis court GOP voters in Iowa State Fair

Former President Donald Trump drew perhaps the largest crowds.
Trump and DeSantis court GOP voters in Iowa State Fair
Posted at 6:13 PM, Aug 12, 2023

The center of the political universe this Saturday is not Washington, D.C. It's Des Moines.

That's where most of the top candidates vying for the Republican nomination descended this weekend to try and woo voters at the Iowa State Fair.

This is a key event in a key state because of the political importance of the Iowa Caucuses.

And no one understands that better than these two men, the current frontrunners.

Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stumped at the fair, and all eyes were on the political rivals as they worked the crowds.

The Former president drew perhaps the largest crowds.

But he couldn't escape questions about his Jan. 6 criminal indictment and the new protective order limiting what he can say about it.

"The whole thing is fake. It was put out by Biden, and they put it out because they can't win an election the fair way," Trump said.

Some fairgoers tell Scripps News they're sick of it.

"I was a Trump supporter, a very, very active Trump supporter. I think his time has passed," said Steve Toms, a former Trump supporter. "I think there are lots and lots of people that are tired of all the drama."

Toms traded Trump in for DeSantis, but the governor has some trouble of his own.

SEE MORE: Who's in the race for the White House? Meet the 2024 candidates

Slippage in poll numbers, a new campaign manager, and on Saturday, he had protestors on the ground and snarky messages in the sky.

Speaking later with the press, DeSantis took a swing at Trump for rejecting the RNC's loyalty pledge.

"At the end of the day, you don't take your ball and go home. It's not just about you. You've got to be willing to stand up and support the team," said DeSantis.

Another member of that team is Nikki Haley. 

The former U.N. Ambassador told Iowans she wants a mental competency test for elected officials over 75.

"These are easy tests. It's like, name four words that start with the same letter. What town were you born in? How many grandchildren do you have?" said Haley.

Young enough to be the grandchild of some of the candidates is Vivek Ramaswamy, who stole a viral moment by rapping on stage after charming Iowans like Adan Johnson.

"It's nice to have someone that's in my age group. I'm 33; he's 38, so," said Johnson.

But is he too young?

As other Iowans told Scripps News, they want experience.

"Look, I think that it takes a person of a different generation to reach the next generation," said Ramaswamy.

Will that message resonate with this generation, which does most of the voting?

Iowa will find out as the fair continues and the Caucus draws closer.

Republicans will have the Iowa Caucus on January 15 of next year.

But with so many unknowns in this cycle, like those unprecedented indictments against Trump, anything it seems could happen before then.

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