Ambitious Republicans are starting to make moves in Iowa, long a proving ground for future presidents.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was up first, portraying himself on Friday to Iowa Republicans as a champion of former President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Trump won Iowa twice by healthy margins and remains popular. He’s hinted he’ll run again.
Pompeo’s two-day Iowa trip leads an early round of visits planned by U.S. senators emerging as national Republican figures.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott plans to visit Cedar Rapids on April 1. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is scheduled to meet Republicans in eastern Iowa’s Quad Cities on April 15.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who has met virtually with Republicans in the lead-off primary state New Hampshire, is also making plans to visit Iowa in the coming months, advisors said.
Pompeo plans to address New Hampshire Republicans virtually on Monday.
During a wide-ranging talk with about 200 conservatives at a regular breakfast meeting in suburban Des Moines, Pompeo credited Trump with putting the United States’ interests first around the world.
He noted his own role in the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“As an evangelical Christian, the importance of Israel cannot be overstated, this important place in the world for generations to come,” he said. “I was glad to be just a small part of it.”
Miriam Pederson of nearby Ankeny said she hopes Trump runs again, but isn’t dismissing others, especially those carrying Trump’s mantle.
“Trump will play a part in the election in terms of getting people elected based on what he believes: America first,” Pederson said after Pompeo’s appearance at the Iowa Machine Shed restaurant.
“But Mike Pompeo is very good. He wants to maintain Trump’s policies and that’s key, to continue the policies.”
Trump’s former top diplomat and CIA director was at ease in the restaurant’s packed back room. He likened his political home of Wichita to Des Moines. He continued the longstanding tradition of noting his Iowa connection: His wife is from Iowa City.
Pompeo is fresh off an appearance at the American Conservative Union’s CPAC conference last month in Florida.
He helped raise money for a western Iowa county party on Thursday evening before headlining the Friday morning event. He then met with under-40 Republicans in Des Moines and with state GOP leaders including first-term U.S. House member Ashley Hinson.
Despite Trump’s enduring popularity in Iowa, not all Republicans want him to run again. Gwen Ecklund, a veteran former county chairwoman in western Iowa, said there are some who are “ready to move on” and “tired of the extreme controversy.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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