Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley – the only Republican female presidential candidate – was in Iowa this weekend on a three-day junket to talk about her strategy for beating out number 45 and leaving the remaining stragglers in the dust. She held events in Spirit Lake, Clear Lake, Sioux City, and Waukee. The Hawkeye state is ready and able to set the pace for the upcoming GOP primary season by kicking off the whole shebang on January 15, 2024.
But Haley doesn’t plan on winning the state, although that would be quite the prize. Her closest rival in the field, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has been endorsed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and former President Trump is leading the herd-like Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes by an embarrassing margin.
During a town hall event in Sioux City, her strategy slipped into conversation: “I don’t think that means we have to win necessarily, but I think that means we have to have a good showing.” On the other hand, DeSantis has declared he will take the lead and win in the state. He hasn’t said that if he loses Iowa, he’ll wrap it up altogether.
The Haley Message – Stop the Insanity
Through the largest conservative grassroots organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch network has endorsed Haley and committed near unlimited funds and resources in every state to help her beat out Trump.
“She has what it takes to lead a policy agenda to take on our nation’s biggest challenges and help ensure our country’s best days are ahead. With the grassroots and data capability we bring to bear in this race, no other organization is better equipped to help her do it,” AFP president and CEO Emily Seidel wrote in a memo announcing the group’s decision.
“But what I know is you don’t defeat Democrat chaos with Republican chaos. And that’s what Donald Trump gives us,” Haley told voters during a town hall in Sioux City. “I’ve strongly believed that Donald Trump was the right president at the right time. But rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him,” she said.
Staying Ahead of the Boys on the Track
Yes, the boys also made a concerted effort in Iowa this past weekend – including Trump, just not at the same events as the other candidates. As per usual, number 45 hosted his own party. But on Saturday, Dec. 9, DeSantis and Haley shared the stage with Vivek Ramaswamy and Texas pastor Ryan Binkley at the “Faith and Family with the Feenstras” event hosted by Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA).
Lo and behold, the barbs were kept to a minimum and each candidate stayed on track, answering questions about their faith and religious practices. One must give Vivek an A for effort for showing up and explaining his religious beliefs, which are Hindu. When one voter asked if he would work with the “Christian vision to advance the Kingdom of God in America,” Ramaswamy said. “I don’t think that’s the job of the US president. I’m not running for pastor. I wouldn’t be qualified to be pastor, but I am running to be the commander in chief.”
Trump may be the fastest and strongest contender, but there is always a dark horse challenge that could scare the pack. And that may be the confident politico, Nikki Haley: “We’ve got three major people that are going to go into Iowa, and I think after Iowa, one’s going to drop,” she said. “And then I think you’re going to have a play with me and Trump in New Hampshire, and then we’re going to go to my home state in South Carolina, and then we’re going to take it.”
Less than six weeks remain to cement Iowa’s GOP before the state’s first-in-the-nation nominating contest is in the books. Candidates might as well just hole up and hit every diner and pub from Cedar Rapids to Ankeny, Des Moines, and every rural residence in between.