Republican caucuses live updates: Trump wins Iowa’s leadoff caucuses, while DeSantis takes second ahead of Haley

Former President Donald Trump has won Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis coming in second.

Trump’s victory on Monday night gives him a strong start in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination as the contest moves to New Hampshire. And DeSantis’ runner-up finish over former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley gives him a badly needed dose of momentum.


What to know


‘We got our ticket punched out of Iowa,’ DeSantis says

WEST DES MOINES — The Florida governor sounded a triumphant tone Monday night after edging Haley in the GOP contest for second place in Iowa.

Supporters and volunteers chanted, “Ron, Ron, Ron!” as he thanked them for their work. DeSantis said he was aggressively attacked ahead of the caucus. “They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us,” he said.

“Because of your support in spite of all of what they threw at us,” said DeSantis, who staked the success of his campaign on the Hawkeye State. “We got our ticket punched out of Iowa.”

DeSantis is heading next to South Carolina, which is holding its GOP primary on Feb. 24, and then to New Hampshire, which votes on Jan. 23.

DeSantis said he represents the chance to “reverse the madness” but acknowledged the challenges ahead.

“We have a lot of work to do. As the next president of the United States, I am going to get the job done for this country,” he said.

Haley says her third-place finish in Iowa shows momentum

Haley didn’t get the second-place finish she was hoping for, but she told Iowa caucusgoers that her standing shows her campaign has momentum.

The former U.N. ambassador noted that she went from low single-digit support when she entered the race to placing third in Iowa. She told a packed ballroom at her caucus night headquarters that Iowans had given her the sort of results that would enable her to run a campaign that would make them proud.

“When you look at how well we’re doing in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and beyond, I can safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race,” Haley said.

Haley heads Monday night to New Hampshire, which holds the country’s first-in-the-nation GOP primary on Jan. 23.

DeSantis takes second place in Iowa’s caucuses

DES MOINES — The Associated Press has determined that DeSantis will finish in a distant second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of Haley and behind Trump.

With an estimated 10% of ballots remaining to be counted, DeSantis leads Haley by approximately 2,300 votes, or about 2 percentage points.

With votes reported in all but one of Iowa’s 99 counties, Haley isn’t doing well enough anywhere to catch DeSantis, based on the number of outstanding votes.

Trump celebrates caucus victory with family and supporters

DES MOINES — Trump is celebrating his Iowa win.

The former president was flanked on stage by members of his family and senior campaign staff, as well as members of Congress and other supporters who traveled to Iowa to campaign by his side.

US-POLITICS-VOTE-TRUMP
US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump arrives at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024. Trump told Americans Monday “it is time for our country to come together” after he won the Iowa caucuses, cementing his status as the likely Republican challenger to take on President Joe Biden in November’s election. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images) 

He began his remarks with a conciliatory tone, saying it’s time for the country to come together.

Trump offered a shout-out to DeSantis and Haley, whom he has skewered on the trail.

“I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good time together,” he quipped.

Haley loses lead in Iowa county she needs to perform well in

If Haley is going to finish in second place ahead of DeSantis, she will need to run up her margins against him in an Iowa county that she has just lost her lead in.

With around 96% of the expected vote in Story County reported, Haley trails Trump by 134 votes and leads DeSantis by just over 100 votes.

North of Des Moines, Story County is a relatively Democratic-leaning area. It includes Ames, home to Iowa State University, and has trended toward more moderate Republican candidates in past caucuses. Eight years ago, it was one of five counties that Sen. Marco Rubio won. This is the type of county that Haley, who has courted more moderate voters, needed to perform well in if she is to overtake DeSantis.

Haley was leading in Story for much of the night, but that was largely a function of Story reporting its votes relatively more slowly than neighboring counties. This is not unusual: In Iowa, larger, more populated precincts take longer to count — and therefore report — their votes. Smaller precincts, which are also likelier to vote for more conservative candidates, can count faster and report earlier. With just 221 votes reported in the first two hours of caucusing, Haley led until a little after 10:30 p.m. ET.

Trump, DeSantis and Haley are awarded their first delegates of 2024

DES MOINES — The Associated Press has allocated 16 of Iowa’s 40 delegates to Trump and four delegates each to Haley and DeSantis. These two dozen delegates represent 60% of the state’s total. Delegates will cast their votes at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this summer.

The way delegates are awarded differs by state, and in Iowa, the delegates are awarded proportionally based on the statewide vote. There are no minimum thresholds candidates need to reach in order to win delegates in Iowa. As of 10:05 p.m. Eastern time, with nearly 40% of the expected vote counted, Trump is receiving a majority of the vote. Based on the AP’s analysis of the initial vote and its AP VoteCast survey, Trump will win at least 40% of the vote in Iowa, and DeSantis and Haley will each win at least 10%.

The AP will allocate the state’s remaining delegates as more of the vote is counted.

Party switcher for Haley

DES MOINES — Carol Hendrick is a lifelong Iowa Democrat, but she registered as a Republican on Monday night so she could caucus for Haley.

Hendrick said just before the GOP hopeful spoke at her caucus site in Des Moines that she would do “anything I could do” to keep Trump from becoming president again.

“Her doing well makes Trump look worse,” Hendrick said. “I do wish her well. She’s an accomplished person.”

Hendrick said she would back Democrat Joe Biden in the general election, even if Haley won the Republican nomination.

Iowa caucuses reveal some vulnerabilities for Trump

Despite Trump’s commanding win in Iowa, the contest exposed some national vulnerabilities for the former president.

The suburbs are a relative weakness for Trump: Only about 4 in 10 of Iowa Republicans in the suburbs support him. Trump still bests his closest rivals in the suburbs, but not as strongly as he does in other areas, according to AP VoteCast, a survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa.

Former President Trump Holds Iowa Caucus Night Event In Des Moines
The stage is set at former President Donald Trump’s caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) 

Nor does Trump have as much appeal with college graduates. Just 2 in 10 of Trump’s Iowa backers hold a college degree, compared to roughly half of those who backed Haley and DeSantis.

And there are Trump’s legal troubles. About one-quarter of GOP caucusgoers say Trump has done something illegal when it comes to at least one of the legal cases he is facing: his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, his alleged attempts to interfere in the vote count in the 2020 presidential election or the discovery of classified documents at his Florida home that were supposed to be in government custody.

A silent victory party

Typically, attendees at political victory parties assemble early to watch the results come in and erupt in cheers when their candidate wins.

But the call declaring Trump the winner of Iowa’s caucuses came so early that the former president wasn’t on site yet and his invited guests hadn’t yet arrived. So round cocktail tables draped with black tablecloths stood empty and bottles of wine and beer sat on ice awaiting the start of the party.

Trump is expected to speak later Monday night at the Iowa Events Center venue, flanked by many American flags.

First-time caucusgoer votes for DeSantis, citing economic concerns

WAUKEE — Spencer Cook, a 24-year-old commodity trader, attended his first caucus on Monday night and voted for DeSantis.

Cook said he was motivated above all else by boosting the economy, which he said is “a little bit stagnant right now.” He said his salary doesn’t go as far as it did when he started his first job a year and a half ago.

“Buying a house for someone my age is really tough,” Cook said at his caucus site in Waukee. “Interest rates are high. Housing prices are really high.”

Haley appeals to voters who want to ‘move forward with no more vendettas’

CLIVE — Haley has added a forward-looking wind-up to her standard campaign speech that seemed to graze Trump.

“If you want to move forward with no more vendettas, if you want to move forward with a sense of hope, join us in this caucus,” she said. “I ask for your vote. And I promise you I will make sure every day I focus on what it takes to make you proud.”

Several hundred people at the Horizon Events Center rose to their feet in applause.

Race for second place is between Haley and DeSantis

DES MOINES — Haley and DeSantis are vying for second place in Iowa’s leadoff Republican caucuses.

The contest for runner-up narrowed to the former U.N. ambassador and the Florida governor on Monday night after Trump was declared the winner of the first-in-the-nation GOP voting contest.

Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson are among the other candidates competing for votes.

Trump addresses caucus site shortly before AP calls Iowa for him

CLIVE — Shortly before the AP called Trump the winner in Iowa, the former president spoke at a caucus site in Des Moines.

Trump was greeted with loud cheers and applause as he addressed the crowd.

Iowa Holds Republican Caucuses For First In The Nation Presidential Nominating Contest
Former president Donald Trump speaks to voters during a visit to a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on January 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) 

“I would appreciate your vote. I think I deserve it,” he said, making the case that things were much better when he was in charge. “We were a great nation three years ago and today people are laughing at us,” he said.

Trump was proceeded on stage by Asa Hutchinson and followed by Vivek Ramaswamy.

How the AP called Trump the winner of Iowa’s caucuses

The Associated Press declared Trump the winner of the Iowa caucuses based on an analysis of early returns as well as results of AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who planned to caucus on Monday night. Both showed Trump with an insurmountable lead.

Initial results from eight counties showed Trump with far more than half of the total votes counted as of 8:31 pm. ET, with the rest of the field trailing far behind. These counties include rural areas that are demographically and politically similar to a large number of counties that have yet to report.

AP VoteCast also shows Trump with sizable leads among both men and women, as well as every age group and geographic regions throughout the state.

AP VoteCast is a survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa.

Among voters who identify as born-again Christians, the survey found that Trump was favored by 58% voters intending to caucus, compared to 18% for DeSantis and 13% for Nikki Haley. Polls showed that was a relatively weak group of backers for Trump in Iowa in 2016.

So far, Trump is significantly outperforming his second-place 2016 caucus finish, when he received 24% of the vote, compared to 28% for Ted Cruz.

Trump wins Iowa’s first-in-the-nation GOP caucuses

Trump has won Iowa’s leadoff presidential caucuses, giving him a strong start in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination.

His rivals are jostling for second place, hoping for a bump heading into New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 23.

Trump and Hutchinson woo voters at the same caucus site

CLIVE — There are hundreds of caucus sites in Iowa. But Trump, the presumed front-runner, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is barely registering in the polls, both ended up at the same caucus site.

“We’re trusting you, Iowa, to get it right,” Hutchinson said, addressing several hundred voters at the Horizon Events Center in Clive.

Trump was holding backstage as Hutchinson spoke.

Ramaswamy is hustling for support at a caucus site

CLIVE — Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is working until the last minute to round up votes.

He stopped by a caucus site in suburban Des Moines, telling voters, “I’d love to earn your support tonight.”

He fielded questions and compliments from a steady stream of voters lining up to speak with him or snap a selfie.

“I’m Jamie, and I just want to say congrats on a wonderfully run campaign,” one voter told him.

To another voter who sounded a little skeptical of him, Ramaswamy said, “We need someone with fresh legs” and said he’d fire most of the federal workforce.

“My parents came to this country the right way, too,” he told one person. “That’s what makes this country great.”

How Iowa Republican caucusgoers see Haley and DeSantis

DES MOINES — Among Iowa Republicans, Haley is something of an anti-Trump option, even though she was his U.N. ambassador.

She is the top candidate of GOP caucusgoers who say Trump did something illegal when it comes to at least one of the criminal cases against him, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa.

Iowa Holds Republican Caucuses For First In The Nation Presidential Nominating Contest
Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley visits a caucus site at Franklin Junior High on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) 

Among those who say they are caucusing for Haley, about 4 in 10 voted for Democrat Joe Biden over Trump in 2020.

Meanwhile, DeSantis performs best among the caucusgoers who are dissatisfied with Trump but say they would ultimately vote for him in the general election, according to AP VoteCast. DeSantis’ supporters are more likely than those for other candidates to say they think abortion should always be illegal.

He performs better than Haley does among those who describe themselves as conservative.

Most Iowa GOP caucusgoers back Trump’s MAGA movement

The majority of Iowa Republican caucusgoers believe in the need to “Make America Great Again,” a sign of how Trump and his political movement have transformed a state party that denied him a victory eight years ago.

That’s according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa. The survey was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The findings suggest that Trump is in a strong position as the caucuses began. He shows significant strength among urban, small town and rural communities. Trump also performs well with evangelical Christians and those without a college degree. One relative weakness for Trump comes in the suburbs, where only about 4 in 10 support him.

Coldest Iowa caucuses on record are now underway

DES MOINES — Iowa Republicans have gathered at caucus meetings across the state to pick their next GOP presidential nominee.

Iowa Holds Republican Caucuses For First In The Nation Presidential Nominating Contest
Voters check in a a caucus site at Franklin Junior High on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowans vote today in the state’s caucuses for the first contest in the 2024 Republican presidential nominating process. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) 

The coldest first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on record kicked off Monday night at minus-3 degrees Fahrenheit in the capital city, with the wind chill making it feel like minus-20, according to the National Weather Service.

In the 2016 GOP caucuses, the AP first reported results at 8:32 p.m. ET, or 32 minutes after the caucuses convened. The caucus night tabulation ended at 12:50 a.m. ET with 99.9% of total votes counted.

Meatball Ron? Day One Dic-Tater? Iowa restaurant gets in on caucus fun

Zombie Burger in Des Moines rolled out a special menu in time for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation voting contest.

The quirky restaurant posted on its Instagram page that customers can “celebrate the circus with these featured shakes + ONE-DAY-ONLY burgers at Zombie Burger!”

The special on Jan. 12 was Mom-Aswamy’s Spaghetti burger, a smashed vegetarian meatball patty, fried spaghetti and marinara croquette with mozzarella in honor of Vivek Ramaswamy.

On Jan. 13, diners could nosh on Meatball Ron, a double smashed meatball patty with mozzarella, fried banana peppers, marinara and a “hidden” garlic bread lift — inspired by DeSantis.

The meal of the day for Jan. 14 was American History 101, featuring a double pimento cheese patty, pulled pork, pulled bacon, fried okra and Carolina Gold sauce. The Carolina Gold sauce was a giveaway for Haley.

And on caucus night itself, customers could dig into a Day One Dic-Tater, with Flamin’ Hot Cheeto orange kielbasa sausage, Jack cheese, tater rounds, housemade sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Trump recently vowed to only be a dictator on “day one” of his next term.

And throughout, diners had the choice of two special drinks: a Sleepy Joe shake or a Dark Brandon shake, both available with an alcohol option.

Haley wins over an undecided caucusgoer

NEWTON — Haley is making her case to some last-minute undecided caucusgoers — and winning over at least one.

During her third stop of a final pre-caucus push in PB’s Pub, Haley asked for a showing of hands from those who hadn’t yet made up their minds.

“We’ve got one guy,” she said, seeing Chris Varney raise his hand in the back.

After giving brief remarks and telling Iowans that “It’s go time,” Varney got a chance to speak with Haley.

“OK, she got me,” Varney said, prompting cheers from other attendees.

Eric Trump predicts ‘great night’ for his father

DES MOINES — The former president’s son is calling it now: It will be a “great night” for Team Trump.

He told The Associated Press hours before Iowa’s kickoff caucuses: “Everywhere I show up, there’s hundreds and hundreds of people, and they’re all wearing the Make America Great Again hats and carrying American flags.”

He says, “I think we’re going to have a great night.”

He says that he’s seen tremendous enthusiasm across the state for his father and that Republican voters are eager for a return to Trump’s policies.

Waiting for DeSantis but leaning toward other candidates

CEDAR RAPIDS — A few hours before the caucuses, Iowa Republican Steve Kessler sat in a sports bar awaiting an appearance by DeSantis, but he was still undecided about whom he would support.

“I like to take my time,” the 65-year-old retired electrical engineer said at Jerseys Pub & Grub.

But it wasn’t looking good for DeSantis.

“My heart is with Vivek because of his rambunctiousness,” Kessler said. “But I’m tempted to vote for Nikki to show my anti-Trump feelings.”

Why not DeSantis? “He’s not that charismatic,” he said. “But I figured I should see him before I go to caucus.”

Kessler was headed straight from the DeSantis event to his caucus site in Coralville, about 30 miles south of Cedar Rapids.

Iowa GOP caucusgoers say no to the status quo

DES MOINES — Iowa GOP caucusgoers want sweeping changes to how the federal government is run, according to AP VoteCast.

About 3 in 10 say they are seeking a complete and total upheaval. An additional 6 in 10 caucusgoers say they want substantial changes.

Most caucusgoers trust Iowa elections, but about 4 in 10 are not too confident or not at all confident in the integrity of U.S. elections. Nearly 6 in 10 have little to no confidence in the U.S. legal system.

Most Iowa GOP caucusgoers are unbothered by charges against Trump

DES MOINES — The criminal charges against Trump have done little damage to his reputation among Republicans headed to Monday night’s Iowa caucuses, according to AP VoteCast.

About three-quarters of caucusgoers say the charges are political attempts to undermine him, rather than legitimate attempts to investigate important issues.

Still, about a quarter say Trump has done something illegal when it comes to at least one of the ongoing legal cases he’s facing: his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, his alleged attempts to interfere in the vote count in the 2020 presidential election or the discovery of classified documents at his Florida home that were supposed to be in government custody.

Top issues for Iowa GOP caucusgoers: Immigration, economy

About 4 in 10 GOP caucusgoers say immigration is the most important issue facing the country, according to AP VoteCast.

About one-third said it was the economy. Fewer people named other priorities, including foreign policy, health care, abortion or energy.

AP VoteCast is a survey of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Republican caucuses in Iowa, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The vast majority – 7 in 10 – said immigrants were a negative for the country, an indication that they’re not only seeking more order on the U.S. southern border but major cuts on how many foreigners can come into the country.

42-year-old Iowan plans to caucus for the first time

FORT DODGE — Melanie Klaassen, 42, plans to participate in her first caucuses on Monday night.

She and her husband, Michael, were among an engaged crowd of Trump supporters at ShinyTop Brewing who gathered to see surrogates of the former president.

The farmers from Pomeroy supported Trump in 2016 but went to their first rally in 2020 out of “curiosity,” she said. They found camaraderie there with people from “all walks of life,” Melanie said, who had been stereotyped as “bad, backwards people.”

“We’ve always voted, but we didn’t care either way how it turned out,” she said. That’s changed since Trump. “It feels like our voices really matter more,” she said.

‘The world is counting on Iowa,’ Kari Lake says

FORT DODGE — Dozens of Trump supporters gathered at ShinyTop Brewing Monday to get up close and personal with some of the former president’s best-known endorsers, including Reps. Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, as well as U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake of Arizona.

“I want to tell you how much the world is counting on Iowa tonight,” Lake told the crowd. She added: “What you’re going to do tonight is you’re going to help save this world.”

Iowa voter wants to size up Haley before caucuses

PELLA — Some voters are still waiting to get the right impression from candidates just hours before the caucuses.

Darla De Haan said Monday as she ate lunch at The Bread Board that she had Nikki Haley at the top of her list but wanted to hear from the candidate in person. Haley was set to appear later Monday afternoon at the Pella restaurant.

US-POLITICS-VOTE
Snow and ice surround the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024. Voters will brave subzero temperatures to caucus for their presidential candidate of choice later in the day. (Photo by CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA/AFP via Getty Images) 

De Haan, a psychotherapist, said that she had not caucused in years but was looking forward to participating this time.

“For me, it’s really about character,” De Haan said. “I want to see people who have integrity, who keep their word. … I kind of get a sense when you’re around someone, if they’re going to do what they say.”

De Haan said she had not seen other 2024 candidates as they have campaigned through Iowa over the past year but was interested to hear what Haley had to say during her round of closing arguments to the state’s caucusgoers.

‘It’s caucus day. Get excited!’ Haley tells supporters

DES MOINES — Dozens of people packed into a diner near Drake University as they waited for Haley.

“It’s caucus day. Get excited!” Haley said to a crowd of several dozen, many of whom drank coffee from cups festooned with “Pick Nikki” stickers.

Nikki Haley Campaigns On Caucus Day In Iowa
PELLA, IOWA – JANUARY 15: Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley interacts with Kim Morgan as she makes scones during a campaign stop at The Bread Board on January 15, 2024 in Pella, Iowa. Iowa Republicans head to the caucuses today as they become the first to select their party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential race. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) 

Speaking directly to those serving as caucus captains, Haley asked them to “speak from the heart” in their Monday night speeches.

The GOP candidate plans to make several stops in central Iowa ahead of Monday night’s votes, including making an appearance at a caucus location before heading to her campaign celebration.

Trump starts caucus day by trash-talking rivals

DES MOINES — Trump is stepping up his attacks against his rivals on the morning of Iowa’s kickoff caucuses.

On his Truth Social site, Trump is knocking Haley, his former U.N. ambassador, as “an unwanted Globalist” and calling her “weak on the Border.”

Iowa Holds Republican Caucuses For First In The Nation Presidential Nominating Contest
A campaign sign supporting Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is stuck in the snow on January 15, 2024, in Pella, Iowa. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) 

Trump is also going after Vivek Ramaswamy, the tech entrepreneur who has run as a steward of his Make America Great Again movement.

“A vote for Vivek is a wasted vote,” Trump wrote in all caps. “I like Vivek, but he played it too ‘cute’ with us. Caucus tonight, vote for Donald J. Trump, build up the numbers!!!”

Trump spent much of the race praising Ramaswamy for saying nice things about him. But Trump turned on him this week after Ramaswamy posted a photo of himself posing with supporters wearing “Save Trump, vote Vivek” T-shirts.

Candidates make last-minute pleas on Sunday

‘A little too cold’ for the DeSantis kids

ANKENY — DeSantis took the stage with his wife and three young children Sunday night, joking that the severe weather has a little TV-style comic irony to it.

“We could do a sitcom on this,” DeSantis said to almost 1,000 people gathered at an events center in Ankeny, one of the largest audiences of his entire campaign. “Taking a Florida family and dropping them in the middle of a blizzard.”

Ron DeSantis Campaigns In Iowa Day Before State's Caucuses
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks alongside his wife Casey DeSantis and their children during a campaign event the District Venue on January 14, 2024 in Ankeny, Iowa. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) 

DeSantis, who commonly travels with his kids, said that as of last month they had never seen snow and that they were excited when they did. “They had snowball fights and all that stuff,” he said. “They loved it.”

In the meantime, the temperature has dropped to well below zero on top of a foot of snow, forming glacier-like snowbanks.

“Well, now after seeing all this,” he said, “they say it’s a little too cold.”

Ernst shows up at DeSantis event, too

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst doesn’t want to be accused of not playing fair.

Hours after she appeared at an event with Haley in Ames, Ernst was among a crowd of more than 200 at a DeSantis event in Ankeny. She kicked off the event by introducing DeSantis’ lieutenant governor, Jeanette Núñez.

Haley offers well wishes for family of slain Iowa principal

At her closing event of the last day ahead of Iowa’s GOP caucuses, Haley offered well wishes for the family of an Iowa principal who died Sunday of injuries suffered in a school shooting earlier this month.

“Today my heart dropped again when I learned that we lost Dan Marburger,” she said, speaking in a wood-paneled lodge packed with several hundred supporters. “This principal was a hero. He saved lives.”

Marburger died 10 days after a 17-year-old student opened fire at Perry High School. An 11-year-old middle school student also died in the shooting, which ended with the gunman’s death.

“God bless (Marburger) and his family,” Haley said. “And we have got to finally acknowledge once and for all the cancer that is mental health in America.”

Former Iowa chair says Haley is ‘leaning into the future’

ADEL — David Oman, a former co-chair of the Iowa Republican Party, says he thinks Haley is far and away the best choice for the GOP, in part because she’s “leaning into the future.”

“I felt in my head and heart that the choice is pretty easy,” Oman said ahead of Haley’s final pre-caucus day event. “She’s got some good policy ideas and a lot of energy – what’s not to love?”

He also said that the country needs a president “to come in and take stock of new ideas and new people in key roles, reassert our leadership – that speaks to national security, which for me is always an important issue, and some of the others are frankly a little weak, in my view.”

Iowa Republican leader predicts ‘robust’ caucus turnout

Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann is feeling more optimistic about caucus turnout than he was a few days ago.

“If you would have asked me this and the caucuses would have been two days ago, I would have said we would have significantly less turnout,” Kaufmann told reporters at a briefing hosted by Bloomberg on Sunday.

Clear skies Sunday that helped create conditions for crews to clear the roads bolstered his confidence. He said he was more concerned about icy roads than about low temperatures, which he said Iowans were accustomed to.

Without putting an exact number on it, Kauffman said, “I think it’s going to be a robust turnout.”

DeSantis dons an overcoat days after leaving his at home

DeSantis is wearing a winter coat again.

The Florida governor was bundled up at a campaign event in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, days after he left his coat at home in the Sunshine State when he was there delivering his State of the State address Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis greets a supporter after speaking at a campaign event, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis greets a supporter after speaking at a campaign event, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) 

“This is my winter coat. I have not worn this since I’ve been governor once,” DeSantis said in Iowa.

He told a crowd at a construction contractors convention in Des Moines on Wednesday that his staff was hustling his coat from Tallahassee.

Freezing in Iowa? This voter is still wearing shorts

DUBUQUE — Mark Calhoun wears shorts every day of the year.

The 61-year-old fan of DeSantis (and the Dallas Cowboys) ventured out in subzero temperatures Sunday — with bare legs — to see the candidate in Dubuque.

“He’s what we need,” Calhoun said.

The coldest caucus temperatures won’t keep him away Monday.

‘This is good pizza,’ Trump says after stop at Casey’s

WAUKEE — Trump and his former-rival-turned-backer, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, dropped by a Casey’s convenience store to pick up pizzas after his Indianola rally.

“The best you’ll ever have,” said a Casey’s worker as he handed over the food.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump eats pizza with fire fighters at Waukee Fire Department in Waukee, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump eats pizza with fire fighters at Waukee Fire Department in Waukee, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) 

Trump then made another stop to deliver the pizzas to members of the Waukee Fire Department. He handed the stack of boxes out down the line of those assembled and chatted about their trucks and their work.

Trump then asked for a slice of his own.

“Good luck, everybody,” he said before taking a bite and continuing to chat as he ate. “This is good pizza, by the way,” he said.

Iowa Sen. Ernst introduces Haley at campaign event

AMES — Speaking to a room packed full of Iowans and out-of-state volunteers, Haley gave an abbreviated version of her campaign speech, drawing frequent cheers from the pink necklace and boa-clad “Women for Nikki” volunteers.

“It’s been eleven months, and it comes down to tomorrow,” Haley said of Monday’s caucuses, repeating her frequent call to GOP voters to elect her as a “new generational leader that leaves the negativity and the baggage behind and focuses on the solutions of the future.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduces Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during a campaign event at Jethro's BBQ in Ames, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduces Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during a campaign event at Jethro’s BBQ in Ames, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) 

Haley was introduced by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the 2024 campaign but said the former South Carolina governor is “inspiring so many people across the state of Iowa, inspiring them so much to get out and support her in the caucuses, support her in this quest for the nomination of the Republican Party for our president of the United States.”

Volunteers swarm Iowa to help give candidates last-minute boost

AMES — Out-of-state volunteers have descended on Iowa to help boost enthusiasm for their given candidates in the waning hours before the state’s leadoff caucuses.

On Sunday in Ames, dozens of women festooned in hot pink feather boas and beaded necklaces waved “Women for Nikki” signs ahead of her afternoon event.

One of them was Alissa Baker, who said she has been calling Iowans and knocking on doors since she arrived from Virginia on Saturday.

“We’ve stepped up our efforts on phone banking and definitely been making a lot more phone calls,” Baker said. “We’re doing everything that you would normally do to get out the caucus support.”

On Monday night, Baker said she would serve as a caucus captain for Haley’s campaign in the Ames area, telling caucusgoers why they should support the Republican.

Rubio endorses Trump before Iowa caucuses

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has become the 24th Republican senator to endorse Trump for president.

Rubio’s endorsement on Sunday means the two U.S. senators from Florida are now firmly behind Trump instead of DeSantis, their home-state governor. Trump is now one Republican senator short of securing the majority support of the GOP senators.

“I support Trump because that kind of leadership is the ONLY way we will get the extraordinary actions needed to fix the disaster Biden has created,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It’s time to get on with the work of beating Biden & saving America!”

The endorsement of Trump is a bit of a surprise, given that Haley endorsed Rubio when he was running in the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. Rubio dropped out of that race after losing Florida.

Hutchinson isn’t giving up on Iowa

AMES — He hasn’t been as visible on the campaign trail this week as some of the other Republican contenders, but Asa Hutchinson is still homing in on Iowa.

Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson leaves a campaign event, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson leaves a campaign event, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) 

The former Arkansas governor was spotted Sunday at the same Ames barbecue restaurant where Haley was hosting a campaign rally. Hutchinson met with some lunchtime diners and did a media interview before heading out.

Hutchinson qualified for the first Republican candidate debate but didn’t meet the markers for the subsequent four. He said last week that he expects to beat expectations in Iowa’s caucuses.

Iowan says DeSantis’ response to Hamas attack cemented his support

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Hans Rudin, a 49-year-old community college adviser in Council Bluffs, Iowa, says DeSantis’ response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas won the Florida governor his support.

Rudin supported Trump in the past two elections but has now decided to caucus for DeSantis. The DeSantis administration arranged flights for Americans evacuating from Israel and sent cargo planes with health care supplies, drones, body armor and helmets.

“The definite trigger was Israel,” Rudin said, adding that he did not like Trump’s criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu days after the attack saying he “let us down” about another operation in which the U.S. killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in 2020.

“I thought, This guy’s kind of a jerk. Well, I knew that beforehand in many ways, but I like Israel so much,” he said.

Nevertheless, Rudin said he would still support Trump over President Joe Biden if Trump becomes the Republican nominee.

Vote, no matter what, Trump says

INDIANOLA — Trump is telling his supporters not to let anything stop them from voting for him in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

“You can’t sit at home. If you’re sick as a dog … Even if you vote and then pass away,” Trump said at his Sunday rally.

Snow stops, but frigid temperatures set in

The snow may have stopped falling across Iowa, but evidence of the treacherous storm that bore down on the state earlier this week remains.

Major interstates in the Des Moines area were mostly clear on Sunday, but wrecked cars and tractor trailers stranded in the snowstorms of recent days littered medians and areas just off the road.

 

Bone-chilling temperatures have now set in across the state ahead of Monday night’s presidential caucuses. In Des Moines on Sunday afternoon, it was mostly sunny and cold, with a high near minus-9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-23 Celsius). The wind chill made it feel as cold as minus-30 Fahrenheit (minus-34 Celsius).

Former rival endorses Trump for president

INDIANOLA — Former Republican presidential candidate Doug Burgum is endorsing Trump for president.

“Four years ago, I was speaking on behalf of President Trump at the Iowa caucuses in Sioux City. And today I’m here to do something that none of the other presidential primary candidates have done, and that’s endorse Donald J. Trump for the president of the United States of America,” the North Dakota governor said, appearing with Trump at a rally in Indianola on Sunday.

Burgum, who ended his own campaign last month, said he’d had a “front-row seat,” both as a business leader and a governor, to see what Trump can do.

‘Go back to Mommy,’ Trump tells protesters who crash his rally

INDIANOLA — Trump’s rally was briefly interrupted by protesters — the first time it’s happened in years.

“You’ve taken millions!” a woman shouted as Trump was mid-rally, prompting the crowd to respond with a “Trump!” chant to drown her out.

“Go back to Mommy,” Trump responded as she was led out of the room. “So young and immature.”

Moments later came another protester, this one holding a black and yellow banner that read “Trump Climate Criminal.” He shouted the same thing. The same group interrupted a DeSantis town hall and a separate event for the Florida governor in Ames last week.

When he was running in 2016, Trump’s events were routinely interrupted by protesters.

“That used to happen all the time,” Trump remarked. “It always adds excitement.”

Couple heads to DeSantis event after Haley’s stop canceled

DUBUQUE — Judy and Brad Knowler drove a few miles from Peosta to hear Haley in Dubuque. A couple of hours later, after Haley’s in-person stop was canceled, they found themselves down the road at an event for DeSantis.

Brad, 67, is sure he’ll support Haley in Monday’s caucuses, but Judy, 64, was hoping to hear her in person to “give me a little bit more confidence.” From debates and negative political ads, she said, “it’s really hard to see the real person.”

“I have one foot in Nikki’s camp, but we’ll see,” she said as she waited for DeSantis to take the stage. “It’s an opportunity most Americans don’t get to be this close in person.”

‘Let’s see if we can get to 50%,’ Trump says

DES MOINES — Trump is setting high expectations in Iowa the day before the state’s caucuses — even as he criticizes those who are trying to do the same.

“Somebody won by 12 points, and that was like a record,” he said, citing Republican Bob Dole’s margin of victory in 1988.

“Well, we should do that. If we don’t do that, let ’em criticize us, right?” Trump told volunteers in Des Moines on Sunday morning. “But let’s see if we can get to 50%.”

Moments earlier, Trump had been complaining about the expectation that he earn a majority of the caucus votes Monday night.

“There seems to be something about 50%,” he said. “Now it doesn’t matter from a numbers standpoint. I think they’re doing it so that they can set a high expectation so if we end up with 49%, which would be about 25 points bigger than anyone else ever got, they can say, ’He had a failure, it was a failure.’”

Trump says Iowa win would be a victory over the ‘liars, cheaters’

INDIANOLA — Trump sounded a message of vengeance at his only Iowa rally this weekend.

“These caucuses are your personal chance to score the ultimate victory over all of the liars, cheaters, thugs, perverts, frauds, crooks, freaks, creeps and other quite nice people,” he said at a commit-to-caucus event in Indianola.

“The Washington swamp has done everything in its power to take away your voice,” Trump added. “But tomorrow is your time to turn on them and to say and speak your mind and to vote. And we’re going to take this country back.”

‘Walk on glass’ for Trump? These supporters would

INDIANOLA — Marc Smiarowski hunched to fight off the minus 18-degree chill outside the Kent Student Center on Simpson College campus Sunday morning, waiting for doors to open for former President Donald Trump’s midday rally at the small school south of Des Moines.

But as the weak winter sun hung low in the sky, a sense of bitterness burned in Smiarowski.

“I’m here in part out of spite,” said the 44-year-old public utility worker, who drove 40 miles to be there. “I can’t abandon him. After what they did to him in the last election, and the political persecution he faces, I feel like I owe him this. He’s our only option.”

“No one else could handle what he’s facing,” added his friend Kailie Johnson, a 26-year-old dental hygienist from the same small town of Huneston.

More than 30 minutes before the center opened, more than 100 people stood in line while layered in Carhartt coveralls with hats and hoods pulled down tight. It was a test run for Iowa’s caucuses Monday and of the devotion Trump said last week would make his supporters “walk on glass” for him.

Haley skips in-person campaign stop over weather

DUBUQUE — Haley’s campaign stop in Dubuque was canceled Sunday morning because of poor travel conditions, the campaign said about an hour before the scheduled event.

Voters walking into the venue were given the news by campaign staffers, who offered some a T-shirt, hat or yard sign as consolation.

John Schmid, 69, was already waiting at the venue when the event was called off.

“I don’t blame her,” said the retiree from Asbury, a few miles outside Dubuque. He’s already a Haley supporter, but he wanted to see the “refreshing” candidate in person. He hopes Haley will do well in Monday’s caucuses, which he’ll be at despite the bitter cold.

“It’s just part of living in Iowa in January,” he said.

Haley swapped the in-person event with a virtual town hall.