DES MOINES --- Donald Trump came to Iowa with plenty of arrows in his quiver, and he fired them all.
President Joe Biden and Democrats (obviously). The Democrats’ federal budget proposal. The media. Even Mitch McConnell and Congressional Republicans.
And, of course, the 2020 presidential election results.
All were targets of Trump’s ire Saturday night during a rally attended by a massive gathering of thousands at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
It was Trump’s first public appearance in Iowa since just before the 2020 election.
During more than 2 hours’ worth of remarks at Saturday night’s rally, Trump showed no indication he has any intention of relinquishing his assault on those 2020 election results with his false claims of voter fraud. He didn’t wait long, very early in his remarks falsely claiming that the election was “rigged.” Later, Trump once again let loose on the election results for nearly 30 minutes, at one point leading to a “Trump won!” chant from the crowd.
“All of these calamities are the direct, predictable and disastrous consequences of a totally corrupt election,” Trump said. “They rigged the election, and now based on the rigged election, they’re destroying our country.”
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Trump’s relentless claims have been continually disproved, as dozens of post-election ballot reviews and failed lawsuits across the country have showed time and again that there was no widespread election fraud in 2020.
Trump railed on a recent review of the 2020 election results in Arizona. The Republican-led audit found only minor discrepancies and actually resulted in Biden winning the state by a larger margin than originally reported.
Trump also devoted a significant share of his remarks to criticizing Democrats’ budget proposal, and warned Congressional Republicans that they should not help Democrats raise the federal debt.
“Republicans have to stay strong. You have to fight,” Trump said. “Congressional Republicans must stand strong.”
Trump’s return to Iowa will further stoke questions about whether he plans to run for president again in 2024. He said nothing about a potential run during his remarks Saturday night.
Trump’s “Save America” PAC, which organized Saturday’s rally, said the event was “a continuation of President Trump’s many appearances in support of candidates and causes that further the MAGA legacy and accomplishments of President Trump’s Administration.”
Trump returned to friendly fields in Iowa: in a recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Trump was rated favorable by 53% of Iowa voters and unfavorable by 45%. It was his best showing in either metric in the poll, the Register reported.
Democratic President Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a woeful approval rating in the same Iowa Poll at 31% favorable and 62% unfavorable. Although Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election nationally, Trump carried Iowa by 8 percentage points.
Iowa Democrats issued a statement criticizing Trump for his ongoing attempts to sow doubt in the 2020 election results, and Iowa Republicans for supporting Trump in spite of that.
“Iowa Republicans have tied themselves to a man who attacked the foundations of our democracy throughout his time in office,” Iowa Democratic Party state chairman Ross Wilburn said in a statement. “Iowa Republicans must answer for their silence and role in enabling right-wing extremists. Gov. Reynolds, Sen. Grassley, Congresswoman Hinson, and Congresswoman Miller-Meeks and the entire Republican Party of Iowa need to decide if they plan to stand with Iowans as we fight for our American values, or if they will continue to stand by a man with complete disregard for our Constitution and the rule of law.”
The progressive group Progress Iowa issued a statement with a similar theme.
“We know our election was secure, and that Trump attempted to delegitimize the results. For this, and many more failures during the Trump presidency, it is truly disappointing to see Iowa leaders support him,” Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic said in a statement.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker all spoke earlier in the event.
Grassley, who just announced his bid for an eighth six-year term in the Senate, was greeted with a small smattering of boos and jeers from the Trump faithful. But later in the evening, Trump announced his endorsement of Grassley.
Jim Carlin, a state legislator and attorney from Sioux City who is challenging Grassley in the Republican primary, was in the crowd for Saturday night’s rally.
Grassley listed a number of items that he described as accomplishments during Trump’s time in office, then levied criticisms of Biden. Reynolds went all-in with the political rally red meat to start her remarks, praising the crowd of what she called “freedom-loving, liberty-defending patriots” before starting a “U-S-A” chant.
In order to appease any concerned University of Iowa football fans among the Trump faithful, rally organizers showed the highly anticipated game between No. 3-ranked Iowa and No. 4-ranked Penn State on a big screen on the event grounds. The Hawkeyes won the big matchup, and Trump congratulated the team’s fans.