Former President Trump reiterated his disapproval of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’s endorsement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 primary during a campaign stop Saturday in the Hawkeye State.
“I mean, that was her choice to do this. But I believe in loyalty,” Trump said to loud cheers in the crowd during a rally in Ankeny, Iowa.
The former president went a step further, taking credit for Reynolds’s own election victories in 2018 and 2022.
“This state is not that difficult, and it is a great state with great people,” he said. “But, she became the governor, and then she called me when she had a big [problem]: running against a very wealthy man.”
“He was way up in the polls, and he was going to win. I came, did a big rally and endorsement of her, fought like hell and she ended up winning, right?” Trump continued. “And the second time was much easier.”
Reynolds gave DeSantis her official backing early last month, crediting him for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida and championing the governor as “one of the most effective leaders” she had ever seen.
Her endorsement came after she originally vowed to stay out of the 2024 GOP primary, hosting events with nearly every candidate in the race in the critical state. Her reversal gained Trump’s attention and his attacks.
“She said she’s going to endorse him because he worked very hard,” Trump said at the event Saturday, renewing his critique of the Iowa governor. “Now, how do you endorse somebody that’s 40 or 50 points down?”
He made a similar argument in a post on social media immediately following her announcement.
On Saturday, the former president claimed he doesn’t care if Reynolds endorses him or not because “it’s not going to make any difference.”
“The only endorsement that matters is the Trump endorsement,” he added.
Although Trump said Reynolds is the most unpopular governor both in his rally and in posts online, she remains popular and is seen as a prominent political face in the state. According to polling, she has a +6 net approval rating and is +65 among Republicans.
In her endorsement, Reynolds said “we need someone who won’t get distracted” and will put the country first “and not himself.” She had previously introduced DeSantis and appeared with Florida first lady Casey DeSantis — but didn’t declare her support for him until early November.
The DeSantis campaign is gearing up for the Iowa caucuses. Senior campaign leaders said a win in the state is one of the few hopes to overcome Trump.
The former president is holding a rally in Cedar Rapids on Saturday afternoon, where the focus will likely be on DeSantis and President Biden.
The Iowa caucuses mark the first primary vote in the nation and will be held on Jan. 15.