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Iowa State Daily

Thirteen GOP presidential candidates speak at Lincoln Dinner

Cleo Westin
During his speech, former President Donald Trump took credit for maintaining Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status and avoided direct attacks from major rivals.

The Iowa Republican Party hosted its annual Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center, which featured 13 Republican presidential candidates, who each gave ten-minute speeches, including former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Former U.S. House Rep. Will Hurd of Texas was the sole candidate to attack Trump by name and was heavily booed by the audience for doing so.

“Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again,” Hurd said. “Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 and 2020. Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison.”

Hurd added that “the truth is hard,” but if the Republican party selects Trump as its nominee, they are “willingly giving” President Joe Biden another term.

The only other candidate who received boos from the audience was North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum when he said “two of the best days” in his and his wife’s lives were when North Dakota State beat Iowa and Iowa State in football.

While attacking Trump by name was sparse, attacking Biden was not. According to a tally by the Daily, Biden was mentioned by name at least 59 times, or on average just over 4.5 times per candidate. Pence criticized Biden and the “radical left’s agenda” on abortion and religious liberty, while Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina characterized Biden himself as “radical.”

“As President of the United States, I will make sure that the truth of my life continues to disprove the lies of the radical left,” Scott said. “This is the greatest country on God’s green Earth. I am living proof that all things are possible in God’s country.”

Meanwhile, former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said a vote for Biden is a vote for Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Biden has proven to be incredibly weak, and Kamala is not up for the job,” Haley said. “That’s who we’re actually running against. We have to make sure she doesn’t win.”

Additionally, DeSantis asked the crowd if they were ready to send Biden “back to his basement in Delaware on a permanent vacation.”

“I can promise you this: in my White House, there will be no cocaine allowed in the White House,” DeSantis said. “And look, my son’s only five years old, so he’s not going to be lining his pockets with money from foreign governments.”
Most of the candidates appeared to offer similar stances on policies like closing the border, supporting the police and restricting access to abortion. Several candidates mentioned keeping “men” out of women’s sports, and Pence said as president he would reinstate the ban on transgender personnel in the U.S. military.

“We can embrace our role as leader of the free world, confront Russian aggression and Chinese provocations with a new military fitted to the challenges of the 21st century and we can end the political correctness at the Pentagon,” Pence said.

Trump, who spoke last, made just his fourth appearance in Iowa this caucus cycle Friday and during his speech touted his accomplishments and electoral results.

“I won Iowa twice by really a lot,” Trump said. “We set records and together we will crush crooked Joe Biden, the most crooked president in the history of our country by far and also grossly incompetent. Listen to what he’s doing; he’s destroying our country.”

This may also be the last time Trump appears at an event alongside his fellow candidates. He has not committed to participating in the debates, and earlier this month one of his advisors said Trump is “unlikely” to participate in the debates. DeSantis’ campaign has said he will participate regardless of Trump’s participation.

Trump also listed polls in swing states of hypothetical races of DeSantis against Biden and himself against Biden.

“In the big new Premise poll we’re beating Biden 43 [percent to] 39 [percent], while ‘DeSanctus’ is losing to Biden 33 [percent to] 38 [percent],” Trump said. “In other polls, I’m leading Biden by six, seven, eight and 11 points, while ‘DeSanctus’ is losing to Biden in all cases. I wouldn’t take a chance on that one.”

Noticeably absent from Trump’s speech was mention of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a contrast from seven other candidates that did refer to her. Earlier this month, Trump criticized Reynolds for not endorsing a candidate prior to the Iowa Caucus and said he “opened up the Governor position” for Reynolds.

Reynolds sat at a table in the front row for the duration of the event, including Trump’s speech when he claimed he was responsible for keeping Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.

Prior to any speeches, the Chair of the Republican Party of Iowa Jeff Kaufmann briefly mentioned Iowa’s objectivity while explaining the ten-minute time limit on candidates.

“There is a ten-minute limit to their remarks,” Kaufmann said. “We have to do that. In Iowa we are a neutral objective state, [so] we’re gonna give everybody a fair chance. If any candidate speaks for longer than ten minutes, folks, the microphone will be automatically turned off.”

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  • J

    James | Aug 2, 2023 at 8:14 am

    The GOP is all about projecting their fantasies and failures. This is most understood by DJT’s statement: “…the most crooked president in the history of our country by far and also grossly incompetent. Listen to what he’s doing; he’s destroying our country.”

    Unless a voter is okay with White Nationalism and First Amendment rights for ONLY white conservative religious folks, they should not put any of these candidates in power.