Former President Donald Trump is promising to go on offense as his rivals say they’re aiming for a surprise finish in the January 15th Iowa Caucuses.

“We won’t do like in the NFL, go prevent defense,” Trump said. “We have to keep going, right?”

The most recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found Trump with a 27 point lead on his closest competitors.  “This is so important because you are first in the nation. Make sure that I, we win by a lot because you know if we win by a lot, I think all these characters cancel out. That’s going to be the end of them,” Trump said. “…We’ve got to beat the Democrats. We’ve got to stop this nonsense.”

During a speech in Fort Dodge on Saturday, Trump touched on a wide range of issues, including his support of ethanol and the 28 BILLION dollars in trade disruption payments to farm operations in 2018 and 2019. “Every sane person without what they call ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ — you know what that is? It’s a great honor. I had a disease named after me, Trump Derangement Syndrome — wants to get back to how great we had it under the Trump Administration,” Trump said.


== Three candidates — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy  — kicked off the weekend by sitting at a table together. The event was hosted by The Family Leader, an Iowa based Christian organization, and all three candidates linked their support of abortion restrictions to their own personal experiences.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy shared that their wives had both miscarried their first pregnancies.  DeSantis and his wife are now the parents of three children under the age of seven.  “Life has a long and winding road.,” DeSantis said. “Keep the faith, but it also told me: you know what, this is special. I’ve got to fight for these kids and I’ve got to fight for all these kids.”

Ramaswamy told the crowd his wife thought she was having a second miscarriage that actually turned out to be their first-born child.  “When you bring life into this world, you protect all life — born and unborn,” Ramaswamy said. “…God taught us that in a different way than we had planned.”

Haley told the crowd she’s pro-life because her husband is adopted and she had difficulty becoming pregnant.  “I think anybody who’s appreciated that gift of life, you don’t take it lightly because you know it’s a blessing,” Haley said.

The forum was billed as an adult conversation focused on explaining their views rather than attacking a Republican rival, but event moderate Bob Vander Plaats, The Family Leader’s president and CEO, asked each candidate to respond to critics — including Trump’s criticism of Haley.  “The tone at the top matters because it dictates what happens afterwards,” Haley said.

Ramaswamy — when asked to respond to being called “Vivek the Fake” — suggested there’s a time and a place for everything. “I’m not going to criticize our last Republican predecessor for necessarily bringing a fight at a moment when a fight was required,” Ramaswamy said. “And I think there’s still an element where fight is required now.”

And DeSantis responded to Trump’s complaint that he’s disloyal and should have waited to run for president in 2028. “We’re a republic. It’s not about waiting your turn,” DeSantis said, to cheers and applause. “You have a right as a citizen to put your name out there and to fight for the country that you believe in.”

Governor Kim Reynolds, who endorsed DeSantis a week ago, also campaigned with DeSantis this weekend.