Trump makes appeal to Iowa voters at rally in Des Moines less than three weeks before election

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 11:30 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - With 20 days until the election and polls indicating a close race in Iowa between President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, the president spoke at a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Des Moines International Airport on Wednesday.

The RealClearPolitics average has Biden with a 1.2-point advantage over Trump less than three weeks ahead of Election Day.

After taking the stage Wednesday evening, Trump seemingly referenced a Focus on Rural America Heartland Poll that was released earlier in the day, showing Trump with a six-point lead over Biden in Iowa.

“For me to only be up six, I’m a little bit concerned, I’ll tell you that. Because nobody’s going to do for Iowa what I did for Iowa,” he said.

Trump followed with a lengthy diatribe against Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, on the heels of an unverified report in the New York Post that alleges the then-vice president met with an adviser to the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. Hunter Biden also served on Burisma’s board.

Trump called Biden “a corrupt politician who shouldn’t even be allowed to run for the presidency” and questioned his opponent’s mental fitness at one point.

“One thing I’ve learned: President Xi of China, he’s 100%,” Trump said. “Putin of Russia, 100%. Kim Jong Un — by the way, whatever happened to that war we were supposed to be in? — Kim Jong Un of North Korea, 100%. These people are sharp, and they’re smart. Joe has lost it. In his best day, he wasn’t a smart man. Everybody knows that.”

Mixed in with attacks on the country’s Democrats and some of the party’s more prominent members, including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Trump shifted focus to how he said his administration has helped Iowa, claiming no other president has done more for the state.

The president focused mostly on how he said he has helped farmers and the agriculture industry, noting how the state’s Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, advocated for the government to deny ethanol waiver requests to oil refiners.

The Trump administration allowed those waivers and then changed course last month at the urging of Iowa’s senators.

“Nobody called me more on ethanol than Joni and Chuck. In fact, I used to duck their calls — ‘Tell them I’m not in. Just tell them I’m not in. I can’t take it anymore, Joni,’” Trump said.

The president also said his administration “took care” of Iowa after some of the state’s flooding during his first term.

“When you had floods all over the place, you were like a large-scale swimming pool. I hate to say it Iowa, I looked at the pictures your governor sent. I said, ‘Kim, I never knew that this was oceanfront property.’ And we took care of you, right? We gave you everything you needed and we got rid of all of the — we’ve rebuilt the dams and the dikes,” he said.

As part of his appeal to Iowa voters, President Trump also said Iowa has “a tremendous influence and a tremendous power” politically, and he promised the state will keep some of that power in the future.

“As long as I’m here, Iowa — and I made this pledge to you four years ago — Iowa will always come first in the rotation. You know what that means, right? There’s a lot of pressure — ‘Let’s put them back.’ I said, no, you’re not putting them back. You know why? Because that’s called the opposite of cancel culture. That’s called a great American tradition,” he said. “Iowa will always be number one, OK, you can forget it.”

Near the end of the rally, Trump made a final call to Iowans to cast their ballots for him.

“Get the hell out to vote because if I don’t get Iowa, I won’t believe that one,” he said. “I may never have to come back here again if I don’t get Iowa. I’ll never be back.”

The outdoor event’s crowd was not socially distanced, violating Gov. Kim Reynolds' public health disaster proclamation, which orders that there must be six feet of physical distance between people at social, community, recreational, leisure, or sporting gatherings or events with more than 10 people.

Reynolds was one of Iowa’s current and former political leaders in attendance Wednesday, including Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and former governor Terry Branstad, who also served as Trump’s ambassador to China.

Biden sent a statement ahead of Trump’s event in Des Moines, saying in part, “Iowa has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, with cases surpassing 100,000 this week and COVID-19 hospitalizations hitting a new high. But President Trump isn’t coming to the Hawkeye State to offer words of comfort to those suffering, or a helping hand to Iowans who are out of a job.”

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