The Hawkeye State became Trump country on Saturday, as President Donald Trump reigned over the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game with charisma that left no question as to who the main attraction was. While the athletes gave it their all on the field, Trump showcased his leadership skills, threw footballs to excited fans, and even flipped burgers — making it clear that he’s just as in touch with everyday Americans as he ever was.
The 45th President, the leading GOP candidate for 2024, didn’t just sit in a VIP box; he visited the Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) agriculture fraternity house and hung out with tailgating crowds. “This is some turnout,” Trump said, acknowledging the warm reception. “I guess the youth likes Trump, but we love Iowa, this reception has been incredible.”
Trump literally can’t move in Iowa.
How do you beat this?
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 9, 2023
While the game may be a contentious rivalry, Trump’s presence unified the crowd. Inside the stadium, chants of “U-S-A!” rang out as he entered, and he was even met with a “four more years” chant before the game began. To top it off, Trump had just won the endorsement of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) the night before, further solidifying his frontrunner status.
His visit was about more than just football and fraternity houses, though; it reflected the polling numbers that placed him firmly in the lead for the Republican nomination. A recent poll from Civiqs in conjunction with Iowa State showed that Trump is leading with 51% support in Iowa. In comparison, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lags behind at just 14%. DeSantis’ campaign admitted this week that they would be satisfied with a “strong second-place showing” in Iowa, seemingly acknowledging Trump’s dominance.
One serious question from me: How will anyone beat Trump in the next election with these massive crowds and great energy? Here he is flipping burgers at Iowa State Universitypic.twitter.com/NOkghhs0kc
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) September 9, 2023
The timing of Trump’s Iowa appearance is impeccable. He’s capitalizing on the enthusiasm of an audience that exists in a crucial primary state. Trump clearly understands the power of showing up and showing out, a political lesson some of his rivals have yet to learn. As DeSantis said, the Iowa atmosphere was “probably a little bit more civilized” than what he’s used to. However, he didn’t mention that it was also far more electrifying with Trump in attendance.
— Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) September 10, 2023
Furthermore, Trump’s Saturday extravaganza in Ames contrasts sharply with DeSantis’s reception. A photo of DeSantis revealed a less-than-enthusiastic attendee flipping the bird behind him, highlighting the stark difference in public sentiment for the two men.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 10, 2023
In the context of the upcoming GOP primaries, this event isn’t just a fun weekend outing; it’s a showcase of political clout, a snapshot of what Trump can do that others simply cannot. Tens of thousands gathered for what Jack Whitver, the Iowa Senate majority leader, called “the greatest rivalry in college sports,” but it was Trump who became the focus. He’s still a man of the people, and in Iowa, those people have spoken: they’re with Trump.