NATIONAL NEWS

DeSantis vies with Trump to sway Iowa conservatives, warns of a Republican ‘culture of losing’

May 12, 2023, 9:27 PM | Updated: May 13, 2023, 11:52 am

FILE - This combination of photos shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking on April 21, 2023, in Ox...

FILE - This combination of photos shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking on April 21, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md., left, and former President Donald Trump speaking on March 4, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. DeSantis and Trump will share the spotlight in Iowa on Saturday, May 13, providing a chance to sway influential conservative activists and contrast their campaign styles in Republicans' leadoff voting state. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) — Warning of a Republican “culture of losing,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sought on Saturday to weaken former President Donald Trump’s grip on the GOP as the party’s leading presidential prospects collided in battleground Iowa.

DeSantis, expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign any day, made little effort to connect with voters one-on-one at a picnic fundraiser in Sioux Center as several hundred conservatives ate hamburgers. He focused instead on a formal speech promoting his willingness to embrace conservative cultural fights and sprinkled his remarks with indirect jabs at Trump.

“Governing is not about entertaining. Governing is not about building a brand or talking on social media and virtue signaling,” said DeSantis, who wore a blue button-down shirt without a tie or jacket. “It’s ultimately about winning and producing results.”

Trump, a candidate since November, hoped to demonstrate his political strength with a large outdoor rally in Des Moines, the capital, later in the day.

Although Trump and DeSantis were scheduled to be hundreds of miles apart, the split-screen moment in the GOP’s leadoff primary state offered an early preview of the matchup between the two Republican powerhouses. Trump is well ahead of his rivals in early national polls, while DeSantis is viewed widely as the strongest potential challenger.

Trump was returning to the comfort of the campaign stage after a tumultuous week.

On Tuesday, a civil jury in New York contentious CNN town hall, he repeatedly insulted Carroll, reasserted lies about his 2020 election loss and minimized the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

DeSantis has burnished his reputation as a conservative governor Disney, which he highlighted in Sioux Center. But so far, he hasn’t shown the same zest for taking on Trump, who has been almost singularly focused on tearing down DeSantis for months.

DeSantis devoted much of his remarks to his embrace of conservative cultural priorities, including his opposition to diversity and equity programs in public schools and laws aimed at curtailing transgender rights.

But, in another indirect jab at Trump, he highlighted the GOP’s recent string of electoral losses. He did not say it explicitly, but the Republican Party has struggled in every national election since Trump’s 2016 victory.

“We must reject the culture of losing that has impact our party in recent years. The time for excuses is over,” DeSantis said. “If we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again.”

It’s uncertain whether DeSantis’ political successes in Florida can be replicated on the national stage.

Even before he formally enters the race, he’s already facing questions about his ability to court donors and woo voters.

The Iowa visit, his second in two months, was expected to help address concerns about his sometimes awkward personal appeal as he met with Republican officials, donors and volunteers, all under the glare of the national media. But DeSantis devoted little time for selfies or handshakes in Sioux Center, where more than 600 people had gathered to see him at an event billed as a family picnic for U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra.

After his speech, DeSantis raced through the crowd and ignored reporters.

Instead of making small talk with voters, as presidential candidates have done in Iowa for decades, DeSantis left most of the politicking to his allied super political action committee, which had set up a table where prospective supporters for his yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign could sign up.

The road outside the museum was flanked with DeSantis 2024 campaign signs.

Meanwhile, Trump was set to headline an evening rally expected to draw several thousand people at an outdoor amphitheater in Des Moines’ Water Works Park.

The former president’s aides said the Des Moines event was in the works before DeSantis’ plans were made public, and they hope a large crowd draws comparisons to the scale of their respective events.

At least for Trump, their emerging rivalry has turned increasingly personal.

DeSantis has largely ignored Trump’s jabs, which have included suggesting impropriety with young girls as a teacher decades ago, questioning his sexuality and calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

Trump’s campaign began airing an ad mocking DeSantis for yoking himself to the former president in 2018 when he ran for governor, even using some Trump catchphrases as a nod to his supporters in Florida.

Trump’s super PAC, MAGA Inc., also has aired spots highlighting DeSantis’ votes to cut Social Security and Medicare and raise the retirement age. The group even targeted DeSantis’ snacking habits, running an ad that called for him to keep his “pudding fingers” off those benefits. That was a reference to a report in The Daily Beast that the governor ate chocolate pudding with his fingers instead of a spoon on a plane several years ago.

DeSantis has said he does not remember doing that.

The pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, has hired Iowa staff and begun trying to organize support for the governor before a 2024 announcement. The group announced Thursday that state Senate President Amy Sinclair and state House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl would endorse DeSantis’ candidacy. On Friday, it rolled out roughly three dozen more state lawmakers who would endorse him.

During DeSantis’ appearance in Sioux Center, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst were in attendance.

The super PAC also has been providing a more forceful response to Trump, suggesting that he should leave Florida if he’s unhappy with DeSantis’ governance, accusing Trump of not sufficiently supporting gun rights and siding with liberal Democrats.

___

Price reported from Des Moines, Iowa. AP Political Writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.

National News

Actor Alec Baldwin hugs a member of his legal team after the judge threw out the involuntary mansla...

Associated Press

What’s next for Alec Baldwin after manslaughter case dismissal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A New Mexico judge dismissed the involuntary manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in a sudden move Friday. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer dismissed the case based on the misconduct of police and prosecutors over the withholding of evidence from the defense. She said the […]

2 hours ago

FILE - An unidentified representative of the junta waves from a military vehicle as Malians support...

Associated Press

Terrorism and organized crime rampant in Sahel and spilling into West Africa coastal states, UN says

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Terrorism and organized crime by violent extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State are a “pervasive threat” in Africa’s volatile Sahel region and are spilling over to West Africa’s coastal countries, the top U.N. envoy for the area warned Friday. Leonardo Simão, the U.N. special representative for the Sahel […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal appeals court says there is no fundamental right to change one’s sex on a birth certificate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel ruled 2-1 on Friday that Tennessee does not unconstitutionally discriminate against transgender people by not allowing them to change the sex designation on their birth certificates. “There is no fundamental right to a birth certificate recording gender identity instead of biological sex,” 6th U.S. Circuit Court […]

3 hours ago

FILE - A version of a proposed Mississippi Senate redistricting map is displayed on a computer moni...

Associated Press

Mississippi must move quickly on a court-ordered redistricting, say voting rights attorneys

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi should work quickly to fulfill the court-ordered redrawing of some legislative districts to ensure more equitable representation for Black residents, attorneys for voting rights groups said in a new court filing Friday. The attorneys also said it’s important to hold special elections in the reconfigured state House and Senate districts […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

A US judge is reining in the use of strip searches amid a police scandal in Louisiana’s capital city

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The use of strip searches by police in Louisiana’s capital city was reined in Friday by a federal judge who said the policy under which Baton Rouge officers perform such searches on people who haven’t been arrested is “unconstitutional on its face.” U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s order came in litigation […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Police tape blocks the boarded-up residence of Timothy Haslett on Oct. 10, 2022, in Excelsio...

Associated Press

One woman escaped a ‘dungeon’ beneath a Missouri home, another was killed. Here’s a look at the case

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man facing trial on kidnapping and sexual assault charges after a woman said she escaped weeks in his captivity was arraigned Friday on a new charge of murder. Authorities say they linked him to the remains of a woman found in a barrel by the Missouri River. The case […]

4 hours ago

DeSantis vies with Trump to sway Iowa conservatives, warns of a Republican ‘culture of losing’