The Iowa presidential caucuses are still a long way off, but potential presidential candidates and other national politicians are visiting the state ahead of the Nov. 7 midterm election.
No top politicians have officially announced plans to run for president in 2024. President Joe Biden has indicated he plans to run for re-election, but has not launched a campaign. Former President Donald Trump, who Biden defeated in the 2020 election, has also not said if he’s running again.
Still, Iowa Republican candidates in the upcoming midterm elections have been joined on the campaign trail by a flurry of national politicians, some of who may be looking at the 2024 caucuses. Iowa Democrats, in contrast, have seen far fewer high-ranking visitors.
Follow this feed for news about upcoming visits and recent appearances:
Mike Pence plans return to eastern Iowa for fundraiser
Former Vice President Mike Pence will be back in Iowa in late September, speaking at a fundraising event with Iowa Rep. Bobby Kaufmann and state GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann.
The 15th Annual Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29, in Wilton. Pence is the only guest speaker identified so far, but the event invitation says other Republican candidates and leaders will attend.
“Bobby Kaufmann has been a champion for Iowa, his district, and the conservative movement,” Pence said in a written statement. “I look forward to joining Bobby at the Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner and meeting Republicans from his district to discuss our shared conservative values and vision for Iowa’s future.”
The fundraiser brings Pence back to Iowa roughly one month after his last visit, when he attended the Iowa State Fair and spoke at events in support of Iowa’s GOP congressional candidates. While he told reporters in August that he and his family are waiting for the new year to make a presidential-run decision, some see his campaigning efforts ahead of the midterms as a signal that he intends to run in 2024. Pence has visited Iowa four times since his term as vice president ended, and he’s made additional visits to New Hampshire and South Carolina.
In 2021, fellow potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton headlined the Kaufmann family event.
Funds raised by the dinner will go toward Bobby Kaufmann’s re-election bid in Iowa’s 82nd district.
Talk show host Larry Elder says he’s considering a presidential bid
Conservative radio host Larry Elder is considering a presidential bid, he told reporters during an Iowa visit in September.
Elder, best known for his radio talk show “The Larry Elder Show,” has long been a prominent voice in conservative politics. He made his first run for elected office last year as a candidate challenging California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the gubernatorial recall election. While voters chose to retain Newsom as governor, Elder was the most popular alternate candidate, winning 48.4% on a question of who should succeed Newsom if he was recalled.
In 2022, Elder said he would not run against Newsom in the general election, but quit the radio show in April. He said he is focusing instead on “Elder for America,” his political action committee to help Republicans win in the midterms.
Elder was the keynote speaker at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s dinner in Des Moines Sept. 17, where he spoke in support of Republican candidates running in the upcoming election. But he also told the Des Moines Register he was using his time in Iowa to feel out a potential presidential run.
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) September 19, 2022
While he has not committed to running, he said some Iowans encouraged him to seek the office during a visit to the Iowa State Fair in August. While some potential Republican presidential candidates plan to wait until former President Donald Trump announces whether he is running in 2024, Elder said he would still consider running even if Trump enters the field.
“I don’t feel I’m running against him,” he said. “I’m running for president. And I’m not running against anybody on the Republican side. I’m running against Joe Biden if he runs, or Kamala Harris if she runs.”
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott tailgates with Miller-Meeks, Reynolds
Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is joining U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Gov. Kim Reynolds at campaign tailgate rally Saturday.
Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is a guest speaker alongside the governor for Miller-Meeks’ fundraising event. It’s the second year the incumbent representative is hosting her “MMM Tailgate Celebration” on the outskirts of Iowa City, ahead of the Cy-Hawk showdown at 3 p.m. where University of Iowa faces Iowa State University.
Tickets for the tailgate are $50 for individuals and $75 for couples. The tailgate is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m., with a host committee reception at 11 a.m.
🚨We Are 14 Days Away from our Second Annual MMM Tailgate🚨
— Dr. Miller-Meeks (@millermeeks) August 28, 2022
Scott has visited Iowa in the past, campaigning with GOP candidates as a key figure in the Senate Republicans’ campaigning arm. Last year, he spoke at an event with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson in Cedar Rapids.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, said it was “curious” that Scott was campaigning with a House candidate while visiting Iowa, noting that Sen. Chuck Grassley is also up for reelection this year. “I hope he enjoys the game. It’s curious he’s in Iowa, curious that he is campaigning with a House candidate,” Vilsack said.
He spoke during a Democratic National Committee call with reporters Friday.
The Iowa Democratic Party, in a news release, highlighted some of Scott’s proposals to levy new taxes and cut Social Security and Medicare programs. The Florida senator has clashed with other Republican leaders on these policy proposals and campaign strategy ahead of the 2022 midterm election.
Harriet Hageman visits Iowa after primary victory over Liz Cheney
Wyoming congressional candidate Harriet Hageman is heading to Iowa this October to speak at state and county GOP events.
Hageman won the Wyoming Republican primary against three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney earlier in August. Her trip Oct. 1o and 11, in support of Iowa Republican candidates, will be her first visit to Iowa.
“Harriet Hageman fought back against the D.C. swamp and won,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement. “That is exactly our goal here in Iowa: send a clear message to the Democrat elite that we are fed up with them trying to control our lives.”
Some political experts have pointed to Hageman’s victory as an indicator that former President Donald Trump remains popular with Republican voters. Trump endorsed Hageman in her race against Cheney, who voted to impeach the president following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
While in Iowa, the Wyoming Republican is meeting with the Republican Party of Iowa, Republican Party of Polk County, and the Scott County Republican Party. She will also be supporting Republican congressional candidate Zach Nunn, who is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd District.
Hageman’s primary victory is motivation for Republicans hoping to take back the House, Republican Party of Polk County Chair Gloria Mazza said.
“The upset of Liz Cheney in Wyoming speaks volumes that Americans are ready to send a message to Washington, and Hageman’s ability to communicate voters’ concerns gave her a huge win,” Mazza said in a statement. “Voters of Iowa’s Third Congressional District want these same results to retire Cindy Axne.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott headlines Hinson event
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott spoke to Iowans Aug. 28 in Central City, headlining U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson’s annual BBQ Bash.
He’s the latest Republican to return to Iowa on the campaign trail, supporting Iowa conservative candidates ahead of the midterms. The senator deflected presidential speculations during his visit. At the event, a person in the audience shouted “Tim Scott for president!” during his speech.
“Of my homeowners’ association, yes,” Scott responded.
He told the Washington Examiner the “primary objective” of his Iowa visit was to help re-elect Iowa Republicans, like Hinson, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds. Scott also spoke at a Reynolds event earlier this summer. But he said he understands the speculation about a presidential run.
“I recognize that it does raise questions — I’m not foolish enough to say that it does not,”
Scott is the only Black Republican currently serving in the U.S. Senate. He was appointed to the seat in 2013 by then-Gov. Nikki Haley to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint. He went on to win a special election in 2014, and won his 2016 election to serve a full term.
Alongside scoping out presidential prospects, Scott is himself competing in the upcoming election. The incumbent senator faces South Carolina state Rep. Krystle Matthews, a Democrat, in November. Most election forecasters, including the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, rate the race as “solidly Republican.”
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson to speak at Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition dinner
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson will speak at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s fall banquet this September.
The dinner and rally is planned for Sept. 17 in Des Moines. It will be Robinson’s first visit to Iowa since his election as North Carolina’s first Black lieutenant governor in 2021.
Robinson rose to political fame when his gun rights speech at a 2018 Greensboro City Council meeting went viral on Facebook in 2020. He was invited to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention that year, and spoke at the 2022 convention in Houston, Texas three days after a gunman shot and killed 19 students and two staff at a Uvalde, Texas school.
The lieutenant governor has not hinted at any plans to run for U.S. president in 2024, but has spoken about a potential run for North Carolina governor in the next election cycle.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders to headline U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst event
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary during Donald Trump’s presidency, will headline U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual Roast and Ride fundraiser this October.
“Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a good friend and relentless fighter for our strong, conservative values,” Ernst said in a statement.
Sanders, who is currently running for governor in Arkansas, has visited Iowa several times during presidential election cycles. She last visited Iowa in 2020, speaking alongside Trump at his Des Moines rally, and headlined Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Harvest Festival in 2018. She also served as national political director for the campaign of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, her father, in 2008. Huckabee won that year’s Republican Iowa caucuses.
🚨 SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) August 24, 2022
Sanders will return to Iowa for Ernst’s event Oct. 22. The Roast and Ride returns after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will now feature a “Ruck March,” a military hike made with a rucksack, alongside the typical motorcycle ride and pig roast.
The Roast and Ride has featured many Republican presidential candidates since its inception in 2015. Trump headlined the event in 2016 before winning the presidential election. Former Vice President Mike Pence, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham have also spoken at the Ernst fundraiser.
Ernst is not up for re-election until 2026, but Sanders linked the event with the upcoming midterm election.
“Joni Ernst is on the frontlines every day, pushing back against the radical policies of the far left in Washington, D.C., and I am excited to join my friend at her annual Roast & Ride this year,” Sanders said in a statement. “Iowans, like Arkansans, know that we need to elect strong conservatives in November who will defend our freedom and enact bold reforms.”
Former VP Mike Pence talks about FBI, Jan. 6 panel at Iowa State Fair
There weren’t many Iowans on the concourse as former Vice President Mike Pence made his way around the Iowa State Fair Aug. 19.
Most visitors were staying indoors during an afternoon downpour that hit Des Moines, but Pence and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley braved the weather. They stopped at favorite fair locations for politicians, including the Iowa GOP booth in the Varied Industries building and the Iowa Pork Producers Tent, taking pictures with fairgoers and answering questions. Read the full story here.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar holds drug affordability roundtable with Mathis
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar visited Cedar Rapids Aug. 18 to speak about prescription drug affordability.
Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, held a roundtable about federal legislation regulating the costs of pharmaceuticals with state Sen. Liz Mathis, who is running for Iowa’s 2nd District. Klobuchar planned to talk about the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps insulin prices among other provisions regulating drug costs, as well as discussing her legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate drug costs for enrolled seniors.
The roundtable focused on these and other steps the federal government is taking to make prescription drugs affordable, according to a news release. After the discussion, Klobuchar and Mathis toured the Eastern Iowa Health Center.
Klobuchar is one of the few out-of-state Democrats to visit Iowa ahead of this year’s midterms. She ran for president in the crowded 2020 Democratic field, and earned one delegate in the Iowa caucuses. She eventually dropped out and put her support behind President Joe Biden, who went on to win the election.
Biden has not officially announced his campaign for re-election, but has indicated his plans to run for a second term in office. While some Democrats said they’d like someone else to run for president in 2024, no one has announced plans to challenge Biden for the party nomination.
Rick Santorum visits Iowa State Fair, advocates for constitutional convention
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum stopped by at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 18 with the Convention of States Action group.
The Pennsylvania Republican visited Iowa earlier in 2022 with the same group, rallying at the Iowa State Capitol for the state to join calls to convene a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. So far, 19 states have passed a resolution to convene, according to the Convention of States website. The constitution requires 34 states to pass resolutions in order to call a convention.
If 34 states pass the resolution, the convention would be asked to consider constitutional amendments focused on three priorities: term limits, spending restraints, and limits to the federal government’s power. A constitutional convention would have the power to consider other issues as well.
The resolution passed in the Iowa House during multiple sessions, but has never passed in the Iowa Senate.
Santorum visited Des Moines again at the fair to advocate for the state Legislature to pass the resolution. He talked with visitors at the Convention of States’ booth in the Varied Industries Building, according to a news release, and toured the fair.
While he has not answered questions about 2024 presidential ambitions yet, but Santorum is familiar with the Iowa caucuses. He won the caucuses in 2012, though he ultimately lost the nomination to U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney. Santorum ran again in 2016, but did not win a single delegate in Iowa, and dropped out shortly after the caucuses.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz returns to Iowa with Grassley
A 2016 caucus veteran returned to the Iowa campaign trail in August..
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz spoke at an event supporting U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley Aug. 18 in Clear Lake, according to the Dallas County Republicans. Linda Upmeyer, co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, and local leaders also spoke the event supporting Grassley.
Sen. Chuck Grassley & Sen. Ted Cruz in Clear Lake! 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/bXLP3zd83I
— Dallas County GOP 🇺🇸 🐘 (@dcgopia) August 10, 2022
Cruz won the Republican Iowa Caucuses in 2016, though he ultimately lost the nomination to former President Donald Trump.
Before this trip, Cruz was last in Iowa in 2021, supporting U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson as she announced her campaign for re-election. He said earlier in August he will “wait and see” if Trump plans to run for president again in 2024 before announcing his own campaign plans.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham criticizes inflation bill during Des Moines visit
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, in Des Moines Thursday, said Democrats’ plan to stop inflation will hurt small businesses.
The South Carolina Republican held a press conference with Iowa congressional candidate Zach Nunn about the “Inflation Reduction Act” and toured a local business, MacDonald Letter Service.
The bill, approved Sunday by the U.S. Senate, allocates more than $400 billion toward measures fighting climate change, reducing prescription drug prices and raising some corporate taxes.
Graham has criticized the Democrat-backed legislation, which is expected to pass the House Friday before gaining final approval from President Joe Biden. Nunn predicted his Democratic opponent U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne would vote for the bill, which he claimed would hurt small businesses.
In Des Moines at a local small business with @LindseyGrahamSC! We’re hearing businesses are worried about Democrats’ new tax hikes, massive spending and 87,000 IRS agents. Even worse, @RepCindyAxne will vote for all of this. pic.twitter.com/fMJNbXXaEE
— Zach Nunn (@NunnForCongress) August 11, 2022
Graham last visited Iowa during his 2016 presidential run. He dropped out before the Iowa caucuses and endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan visits Iowa State Fair
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spent his Thursday in the Iowa Pork Producers tent at the Iowa State Fair, flipping chops with Gov. Kim Reynolds.
His visit was a non-official — but required — stop for presidential candidates in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. But the Republican governor, known as a strong critic of former President Donald Trump, did not say whether he is planning a presidential run.
“I care about country and I care about our party and I definitely want to be a voice and I want to play some role in the future,” Hogan told the Des Moines Register Thursday. “Exactly what that is, I’m not quite sure.”
Got to say, the pork chop at the Iowa fair lives up to the hype! pic.twitter.com/QdSllGlYD2
— Larry Hogan (@LarryHogan) August 11, 2022
Regardless of his plans for 2024, Hogan’s time as Maryland’s top elected official is nearly over. Maryland has a two consecutive term limit for the office, and Hogan’s successor will be voted in this November.
Hogan’s replacement pick, Kelly Schulz, lost to far-right state legislator Dan Cox, who Trump endorsed in Maryland’s gubernatorial primary this July. Trump has not said whether he plans to run for president again in the next presidential election following his loss to President Joe Biden in 2020.
Ahead of his Iowa visit, Hogan unveiled a proposal to curb crime and help law enforcement. The plan includes increased funding for police and having federal prosecutors take on cases involving assault of police officers.
He spent Thursday morning in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra and local law enforcement in Boone. Hogan also planned to meet with first responders in Iowa to talk about the proposal.
I had a great time today at Heroes day at the Iowa State Fair thanking law enforcement members, first responders and veterans. The dedicated men and women who risk their lives every single day to keep the rest of us safe deserve our gratitude and support. pic.twitter.com/k6tMpcvfcR
— Larry Hogan (@LarryHogan) August 11, 2022
The Republican governor also visited New Hampshire in July. Before this trip, Hogan last visited Iowa was in 2019 at a National Governors Association meeting.
Mike Pence visits Iowa State Fair with Grassley
Former Vice President Mike Pence visited the Iowa State Fair with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley this August.
There, he spoke about Grassley’s re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Michael Franken, visited the Iowa Pork Producers Tent and spoke with other Republican congressional candidates at the Iowa GOP booth. He did not answer questions about a potential 2024 presidential bid.
“After the first of the year, my family and I will do what we’ve always done and reflect and pray on where we might next serve or next contribute,” Pence said. “But today, it’s all about winning back the Congress and re-electing Sen. Chuck Grassley.”
Pence also campaigned with Grassley and State Sen. Zach Nunn, who is running in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District outside of the fair, in addition to speaking at events with the Bremer County Republican Party and Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition while he’s in the state.
In July, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton visited Iowa in support of Nunn, who is campaigning to defeat U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, and headlined a Story County GOP Dinner in Cambridge.
Nikki Haley, former U.N. Ambassador, came in June. Her stops included a private fundraiser for Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is running for re-election, and campaign stops for Republican U.S. House candidates.
Trump last visited Iowa in October 2021, holding a rally in Des Moines where he endorsed Grassley. He’s not the only Iowa caucus veteran to come back to the state ahead of the midterm elections. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential nominating cycle, also visited the state last year.
It’s still unclear what’s in store for the Democratic presidential nomination process come 2024. The Democratic National Committee is requiring Iowa and other longtime early nominating states to compete with other states for first-in-the-nation positions. Iowa Democrats made their case to the national party in June, but the 2024 line-up will not be decided until after the midterm elections.
Regardless of whether Iowa is one of the first states in the nomination process, it’s unclear whether Democrats’ 2024 primary cycle will be an incumbent race or a free-for-all field. A July New York Times/Siena College poll found 64% of Democrats said they wanted to nominate a new candidate for president in 2024.
Biden has said recently that he plans to run for re-election in the next election cycle. No prominent Democrats have announced plans to run against him.
Republicans’ upcoming presidential nominating cycle looks comparatively normal. The party has already committed to holding the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa in 2024.
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