DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the Iowa State Fair Saturday, a time-honored rite of presidential candidates working for support in the state’s leadoff nominating caucuses next January.
Campaign aides Tuesday confirmed Trump’s plan to visit the fair Saturday afternoon, on the 10-day event’s first weekend. However, he is not planning to participate in a series of GOP presidential candidate conversations hosted by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is popular and influential among Republicans in the leadoff caucus state. Trump criticized her last month.
Trump’s first Iowa State Fair visit was a circus of its own in 2015, when the then-emerging 2016 Republican presidential nominee drew hundreds of onlookers and news media as the New York real estate executive waded through the crowds at the fair – a celebration of Midwestern agriculture and rural life.
Saturday’s scheduled visit can be expected to be different, with the restrictions of free movement that come with the detail of Secret Service protection that accompanies any former president. Still, it was unclear Tuesday precisely what Trump’s campaign team had planned.
It also comes with the latest round of Trump drama, in the wake of his federal indictment last week on felony charges alleging he worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It also comes ahead of the first debate, set for Aug. 23, of the 2024 Republican nominating campaign. The former president has not said whether he will attend.
One thing clear from Reynolds’ public schedule is that Trump would not be joining her for a State Fair program her political team is putting on called “Fairside Chats,” where GOP presidential hopefuls are to meet with the governor for public conversations.
Trump last month criticized Reynolds, who has pledged neutrality in the caucus campaign, for what he complained was her cozy relationship with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign.
Reynolds has introduced DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis at campaign events, as well as other candidates, including Trump at his first campaign event in Iowa last March. Reynolds introduced South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott at a Scott campaign event in Ankeny last month.
Thirteen candidates are participating in the individual public conversations with Reynolds, including DeSantis, Scott, radio host Larry Elder, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, businessman Ryan Binkley, businessman Perry Johnson and former Texas Rep. Will Hurd.