Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is changing his objective in the Iowa caucuses and is no longer gunning for a first-place finish, according to an insider who spoke to POLITICO over the weekend.
The outlet reported that the campaign insider said the popular GOP governor would settle for second place behind a surging former President Donald Trump.
“We believe it’s already a two-person race,” the insider said, adding that the campaign is looking for a “strong second-place finish” in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary nominating contest.
“But the reality is, on the ballot there are other choices, and our goal is to get this down to a two-person race on the ballot, especially as we head into South Carolina and beyond into March,” the person told the outlet.
“A strong second-place showing gives us an opportunity to go in[to] New Hampshire and show success,” the source noted further.
DeSantis and his campaign began to focus heavily on Iowa shortly after he announced his candidacy for the 2024 nomination in May. In an audio clip obtained by POLITICO earlier this month, Jeff Roe of the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC said Iowa was a priority.
“Iowa is a real state for us because of its education — it’s a highly educated state — because of income, because of Bible reading,” he said, adding that New Hampshire, which is the second state to hold primaries, will be tough for Trump.
“New Hampshire is a terrible state for Donald Trump,” he said. “That’s a terrible state for him. He’s gonna get like 28 percent” of the primary vote.
“Now there is more people who will have a slice of that and some people are just betting on New Hampshire overall. But he’s going to lose the first two states. We’re going to beat him in Iowa,” he added.
Both Trump and DeSantis went to the rivalry Iowa-Iowa State college football game on Saturday.
Trump gave supporters and fans some love before the game, slinging footballs and crashing a tailgate party.
The leading 2024 GOP frontrunner went to the Alpha Gamma Rho house, cooked some burgers, and served up food and refreshments ahead of the game, which didn’t begin until mid-afternoon. He also signed several footballs.
“This is some turnout,” Trump told a reporter. “I guess the youth likes Trump.”
The former president also drew some cheers when he visited a tailgater and got in on some burger-flipping.