Though still undeclared, former President Donald Trump used his latest rally to shape a potential 2024 platform with sharp attacks on Joe Biden’s border policies, congressional Democrats’ socialist spending plans and Republican weakness on the debt ceiling.
In vintage campaign form, Trump electrified a capacity crowd at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday night, putting on display his continued high popularity in America’s first voting state while imploring Republicans to do more to fight the Biden-Democrat agenda.
"We must declare with one united voice that we cannot allow America to ever become a socialist country," he said in urging defeat of $4.5 trillion in spending plans pending in Congress.
While saving most of barbs for Biden, the 45th president also took aim at those Republicans who capitulated and allowed a temporary debt ceiling increase last week after vowing not to do so.
“They just don't seem to have a spine, some of them,” Trump said in singling out some Republicans who folded on the debt matter.
One Republican who earned Trump’s praise was Iowan Chuck Grassley, the Republican’s longest serving U.S. senator who is seeking another term in 2022 at the age of 88.
Trump heartily endorsed Grassley’s re-election just a short while after the Iowa senator elicited a loud “no” when asking the audience “are you better off then you were 10 months ago.”
Speaking for more than an hour, Trump took direct aim at Biden’s policies from the economy to foreign affairs and stewardship of the military. He called the bungled Afghanistan withdrawal "the most embarrassing event in the history of our country."
As he did during his unexpected 2016 run to the White House, the former president also seized on Americans’ disdain for an open border under Democratic control.
"Other countries are emptying their prisons" and sending "murderers" and "drug smugglers" into the U.S, the former president said. "We're becoming a dumping ground," he continued. President "Joe Biden has launched a foreign invasion on his own country."
He also repeated the 2020 election he lost was "rigged" and that he "never conceded" the race while also taking aim at the “fake news” media, long one of his favor targets.
Trump said Washington Democrats' multi-trillion spending bill would give money to such media companies allowing reporters at the rally and others to buy a "new car."
The Iowa Caucus is the first-in-nation balloting in each presidential election cycle, with the Republican and Democratic winner of the balloting getting an early lead on the field of candidates, toward winning the respective party nomination.
Early parts of Trump's speech were punctuated with crowd cheers of "U.S.A, U.S.A., U.S.A."
The Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines is the traditional stomping grounds for candidates and potential candidates when the election cycle begins, another likely message that Trump will seek the White House again in 2024.
Trump in August hired two political consultants in Iowa – Eric Branstad and Alex Latcham – to work for his political action committee, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released earlier this week showed the 75-year-old Trump with now higher favorability ratings in the state than he did as president.
Fifty-three percent of Iowans – including 91% of Republicans – view him positively. However, the survey didn’t ask Republicans whether they would like to see him run again.