Trump makes third Iowa trip this month in final weeks before GOP voting starts in caucuses

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CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Donald Trump is making his third trip to Iowa this month as he increasingly turns his attention to the state where Republicans will cast the first presidential nomination votes in 33 days.

The former president, who has remained far ahead of his rivals in national polls and those of likely Iowa caucusgoers, campaigned regularly in the state throughout the autumn, far more than in any other early-voting state for the 2024 Republican nomination. Wednesday marks his 11th visit since September.

Trump’s “Commit to Caucus” event in the eastern city of Coralville near Iowa City is part rally, part “caucus 101.” Besides Trump’s address, it’s expected to feature videos instructing Iowa Republicans how and where to participate in the in-person meetings.

“President Trump of course has a tremendous lead in the polls, but we cannot leave anything to chance,” his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, says in one of the campaign’s videos explaining the caucus process.

File - The Starbucks Workers United logo appears on the shirt of a person attending a hearing in Washington on March 29, 2023. Starbucks sued the union organizing its workers Wednesday, saying a pro-Palestine social media post from a union account early in the Israel-Hamas war angered hundreds of customers and damaged its reputation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The event is evidence of a more disciplined campaign focused on the mechanics of caucuses as Trump seeks the nomination a third time. When he first ran in 2016, the businessman and reality television star was unfamiliar with a caucus, and the need for intense organization to turn out supporters at hundreds of local meetings around the state.

Trump lost Iowa in 2016. In a foreshadowing of the false claims of fraud he still relentlessly makes about the 2020 presidential election, he claimed rival Ted Cruz stole the caucus based on “fraud” and demanded a do-over. He didn’t provide proof of fraud in the caucus results but pointed to a mailer sent by Cruz’s campaign that aimed to drive voters to the polls by showing their voting history and a false rumor spread by a Cruz surrogate warning that another candidate was dropping out.

Trump’s campaign has already started reviving the fraud claims in 2024’s Iowa race, with his campaign firing off a statement over the weekend that said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife had a “plot to rig the Caucus through fraud.”

In an interview on Fox News on Friday, Casey DeSantis issued a call for supportive “moms and grandmoms” to come to Iowa, saying that people “do not have to be a resident of Iowa to be able to participate in the caucus.”

The Iowa Republican Party limits the selection process to residents. Casey DeSantis posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, attempting to clarify her remarks by noting that while voting was limited to Iowa residents, others can volunteer.

Ron DeSantis echoed that rationale when speaking to reporters, but the Trump campaign on Saturday condemned the comments.

DeSantis has wagered his candidacy’s future on Iowa, and has predicted he will win there.

A Des Moines Register NBC News Mediacom Iowa Poll taken last week showed the Florida governor running a distant second with support from 19 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers, the same support he had in the Register’s August survey, and trailing Trump by 32 percentage points. DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are battling for second place.

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Price reported from New York.

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