The Republicans who are eyeing a 2024 run for the presidency are landing in Iowa this weekend to court the state’s politically conservative and religious voters for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Annual Spring Kick-Off.
In Iowa, the overwhelming majority of Republican voters are Christian — 91%, according to Pew Research data — and the Faith and Freedom Coalition events routinely attract Republicans testing their appeal to these voters. Iowa holds the first Republican presidential nominating contest of 2024, on Feb. 5.
This year, former President Trump is appearing by video, while South Carolina Sen., former Vice President Mike Pence, former Arkansas Gov. and others are expected to speak in person Saturday. Another potential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was invited but won’t be speaking at the event.
Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, one of the moderators of this year’s gathering, is interested in hearing about how candidates are going to protect constitutional freedoms.
“I think I like other Iowans, we’re looking forward to hearing their vision, their plan for how they’re going to take our country back and make sure that our constitutional freedoms are protected,” Bird said in an interview with CBS News. “People are looking for that plan and that commitment to doing the right thing.”
Trump endorsed Bird ahead of her successful 2022 bid for attorney general, when she ousted Tom Miller, a Democrat who had held the job for over four decades. Bird says she appreciated Trump’s support in her general election race last year, but declined twice to say whether she would back him or another Republican next February.
“I have not made any decisions about whether I will endorse or not endorse in the Iowa caucuses. I’m just looking forward to hosting all the candidates, showcasing Iowa and making sure that Iowans can get the questions that are important to them answered by the — by the candidates.”
Bird said Iowa Republicans are looking for a candidate “who has the courage to take on those tough issues,” in particular, someone who supports agriculture in the state, the Hawkeye State’s major industry.
Trump, who isn’t traveling to Iowa for the event, has been focusing his efforts on Florida, DeSantis’ home turf. He’s been courting Florida members of Congress with some success and lining up their endorsements He opened Mar-a-Lago’s doors to several members of the Florida congressional delegation this week, according to photos tweeted out by Rep. Anna Paulina Luna and Trump ally Dan Scavino.
The former president will be addressing the Lee County GOP in Fort Meyers, Fla., Friday night.