Former President Trump canceled an evening rally in Des Moines, Iowa, with just hours to spare Saturday — nixing what would have been a closely watched indicator of his strength in the state that will hold the nation’s first presidential primary contest in 2024.
“Unfortunately, due to the Tornado Warnings in Des Moines, we are forced to cancel today’s outdoor Rally at the Lauridsen Amphitheater,” Trump posted on Truth Social. “Stay tuned, we will reschedule soon. Be safe out there!”
Scattered hailstorms and damaging wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour were predicted for Saturday afternoon and evening across most of the Hawkeye State, according to Fox Weather.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch through the early evening, when Trump had been scheduled to take the stage.
Video coverage of the grassy outdoor rally site in the minutes prior to Trump’s announcement appeared to show a sparse crowd of several hundred who had gathered in the intermittent drizzle.
But the wicked weather forecast hadn’t kept Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s likely GOP primary rival, from visiting Iowa Saturday.
The governor, 44, made a pair of stops — headlining Iowa Rep. Randy Feenstra’s annual picnic in Sioux Cente and speaking at a state Republican fundraiser in Cedar Rapids — to press the flesh with voters who have come to expect the personal touch from presidential hopefuls.
Trump, 76, leads DeSantis by double digits in most recent 2024 GOP primary polling — and a poll of Iowa voters last month found him with an 8-point edge there.
But when matched up against President Biden, the Florida governor performs better than the former president in some surveys.
A WPA Intelligence survey released last month found Trump losing the popular vote to Biden by 3.1%, while DeSantis would defeat the incumbent by 1.2%.