Setting up for the Trump rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. (RI photo.)

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at a rally on the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines Saturday night, his first appearance in the state since leaving office in January.

Eric Branstad worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 Iowa campaigns and he’s a senior advisor to Trump’s political action committee.  “The crowd sizes in Alabama here recently and Georgia, there’s not a place that will fit us besides right here, outside,” he says.

On Thursday afternoon, the stage was being set up where the Midway operates during the Iowa State Fair. Branstad says “jumbo trons” will be in place — so the crowd can watch the Iowa-Penn State football game. Trump will not speak until the game is over.
At his September 25th rally on the Georgia National Fairgrounds, Trump criticized Georgia’s Republican governor for the certification of Joe Biden’s win in Georgia nearly a year ago.

Trump carried Iowa by eight points in 2020 and most of Iowa’s top Republicans have been invited to speak at the Des Moines rally. That includes Iowa’s Republican governor, Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and two Republican congresswomen from Iowa — all of whom are seeking reelection.

“What we’re focused right now is making sure we win congress in 2022 and making sure that we win up and down the ballot next year,” Branstad says. Trump has made it clear he may run for president again in 2024. A recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found 53 percent of Iowans have a favorable view of Trump, which is higher than it was during his presidency.

“I’ve seen this from my very first rally that I was staff at in 2016, the movement has only gotten bigger,” Branstad says. Trump also appears to be the most popular Republican in Iowa, with 91 percent of Republicans surveyed for the Iowa Poll saying they have a favorable view of the former president.

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn says that’s worrisome.  “Iowa Republicans have tied themselves to a man who attacked the very foundation of our democracy throughout his time in office,” Wilburn says. Wilburn says Trump has shown a complete disregard for the rule of law as he continues to protest the 2020 election outcome.

“He’s toxic for our democracy and it’s been well established that he did nothing to stop his supporters from violently attacking our Capitol,” Wilburn says, “even while his own vice president was inside.” Wilburn made his comments during the Iowa Democratic Party’s weekly online news conference.