Trump tiptoes around teasing 2024 run during Iowa rally

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DES MOINES, IOWA – Former President Trump’s return this weekend to Iowa, the state where caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar, sparked more speculation that the former president will launch a 2024 bid to try and return to the White House.

While the former president for months has repeatedly teased another White House run, Trump avoided any flirtations during a nearly two-hour speech in front of a large crowd of supporters during a Saturday evening rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

While Trump vowed to “take back America,” he avoided making specific flirtations about launching another presidential bid. 

Former President Trump addresses a large crowd of supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa
(Fox News )

But Trump did endorse keeping Iowa’s position as the lead-off state in the presidential primaries and caucuses as he pointed to his 8-point victory in the Hawkeye State in last November’s general election.

“You proved why Iowa should continue to vote first in the nation, that’s right. First in the nation,” Trump said. “It all started right here and we’re going to keep it here, number one.”

Scott N.H. trip to help 2022 Republicans generates 2024 buzz

He also led his party in unsuccessful negotiations with congressional Democrats on a major police reform bill. In his Friday night speech, Scott urged fellow Republicans to show strong support for law enforcement, saying “it’s up to us to stand up for the men and women in blue when others won’t.”

He also joined national Republicans in urging GOP Gov. Chris Sununu to challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan next year, saying “Sen. Chris Sununu has a ring to it.”

Haley disagrees with Trump on 2020 election

Former Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina calls Trump a friend, but disagrees with the former president’s unfounded claims that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him.

Haley, who served as America’s ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, said in an interview this past week with the Wall Street Journal that  “there was fraud in the election, but I don’t think that the numbers were so big that it swayed the vote in the wrong direction.”

Haley, who headlined a major Iowa GOP fundraising dinner in June and whom political pundits view as a potential 2024 Republican White House hopeful, said in an interview with the AP in April that “I would not run if President Trump ran.”

But in her interview with the Journal, Haley appeared to give herself more wiggle room when it comes to the next GOP presidential nomination race.

“In the beginning of 2023, should I decide that there’s a place for me, should I decide that there’s a reason to move, I would pick up the phone and meet with the president,” she said. “I would talk to him and see what his plans are. I would tell him about my plans. We would work on it together.”

Haley was highly critical of the then-president’s actions immediately after the Jan. 6 deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporters aiming to disrupt congressional certification of now-President Biden’s Electoral College victory.

“His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history,” Haley emphasized during a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting the day after the Capitol was stormed. “It’s deeply disappointing.”

But Haley tempered those comments in the ensuing months, and she told the Journal last week that the former president “has the ability to get strong people elected, and he has the ability to move the ball, and I hope that he continues to do that. We need him in the Republican Party. I don’t want us to go back to the days before Trump.”

What Cruz’s N.H. endorsement says about 2024

Leavitt is one of six Republicans vying for the party’s nomination in the race for a Democratic controlled district the GOP’s aiming to flip from blue to red. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in next year’s midterms to win back the House majority.

While the endorsement is all about 2022, it does spark 2024 speculation about Cruz, who was the runner-up to Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race and is seen by pundits as a potential GOP White House hopeful next time around.

Cruz generated buzz in August by traveling to Iowa. One of his stops while there was headlining a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Nicole Hasso, who like Leavitt, is running in a contested GOP House primary for a Democrat controlled seat in a swing district.

The old rule of thumb for potential White House hopefuls was to stay neutral in party primaries in the early voting states in the preceding midterm elections. But like so much in campaign politics, those norms have dramatically changed in recent years.

“I think they’re completely out the window. I think the laws of political physics have been bent in the last five years in a lot of ways. That’s one of them,” longtime GOP strategist Jim Merrill, a veteran of numerous Republican presidential campaigns, noted. “I think today the upside of getting involved early with someone you have a relationship with, you know, you believe in, there’s a lot of upside to getting involved early for potential presidential candidates.”

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