That day, Noem told Fox News that she was in Iowa just because it neighbored her state, not because it hinted at her goals for higher office. When asked about Trump, she asserted she was “counting on him running.”
Some are even more explicit about how Trump factors into their 2024 plans. Haley, for example, has said repeatedly she would not run against Trump if he sought reelection.
If Trump, who won Iowa by 8 percentage points in 2020, jumps in the race, “it absolutely changes the dynamic — no doubt about it,” Kaufmann said.
But although some hopefuls may bow out, others may run regardless, he said.
“You run for president for a couple of reasons,” Kaufmann said. “One is you think you can win. The second is so the next time you run, everybody knows you.”
He predicted that most Iowa Republicans would be Trump voters if the former president made another bid. Carol Doss, an attendee at the Family Leader summit, said she would be in that camp.
“If he throws his hat in the ring, I don’t think there will be any other contenders,” said Doss, a 57-year-old from Des Moines who works as an elementary school lunch lady.
Vander Plaats, however, said he sensed Iowa Republicans could be won over by a candidate who blends the former president’s policies with a less divisive temperament in hopes of winning back suburbanites turned off by Trump’s behavior.