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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Three days from the Iowa caucuses, Haley and DeSantis make their final pleas to voters

Zach Spindler-Krage
Two DeSantis supporters sit beneath an American flag in Ames on Thursday, Jan. 11. As the Iowa caucuses approach, former President Trump maintains a commanding lead, leaving all eyes on the second place finisher, likely to be either DeSantis or Haley. Both candidates have been campaigning heavily across Iowa, slowed only by snow storms and protesters. They took to the stage on Thursday in hopes of gaining support from the final undecided Iowa Republicans.

As anticipation for the Iowa caucuses ramps up, the number of campaign events is winding down due to heavy snowfall, with up to seven inches of fresh snow blanketing parts of Iowa on Friday morning.

But while the snow prompted former Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to cancel a handful of events planned for Friday, it did not stop them from hitting the campaign trail Thursday, speaking at numerous events in the Des Moines area. The significance of Iowa was on full display on Thursday, as the S&B attended a Haley campaign event in Ankeny and a DeSantis event in Ames.

On the heels of their CNN debate on Wednesday, Haley and DeSantis echoed similar talking points to the debate, calling each other out for lies and broken campaign promises as they target the same undecided Iowa voters.

According to the latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, former President Donald Trump maintains a commanding lead, with around 51% of likely Republican caucus-goers picking him as their first choice for president. Meanwhile, the closely contested race for second place is garnering significant media attention.

If either Haley or DeSantis fall below 20% support, their chances of remaining competitive in the race are low. If one of them manages to climb above 25% support, however, the strong showing could prove to be a catalyst for their campaign.

Considering the deep snow and potential record-setting cold on the horizon for Caucus Night, Haley and DeSantis are stressing to their base the importance of turning out on Monday, Jan. 15. At their events, both Haley’s and DeSantis’ campaign teams were busy encouraging attendees to fill out commit-to-caucus cards, urging them to take their friends and family with them on caucus night.

Ron DeSantis takes the stage and shakes hands with Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, in Ames on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. Desantis, the current Florida Governor, is battling former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for second place in the Iowa Caucuses, which take place on Monday, Jan. 15. (Zach Spindler-Krage)

DeSantis has fiery encounter with protesters in Ames

During his fourth event of the day, DeSantis was interrupted three separate times by protesters, two of which were removed forcibly by security.

The first protester shouted DeSantis’ name from the crowd, asking him what he was going to do about the climate crisis.

DeSantis responded by saying the protester wants “you to pay more for gas” and “we’re not going to let people like that win.”

The second protester unfurled a sign reading, “DESANTIS: CLIMATE CRIMINAL,” as he stepped onto the stage with DeSantis. Three security guards immediately tackled the protester to the ground, pinning him down before dragging him out of the room.

“This is [what’s] wrong with the college system right there,” DeSantis said, pointing toward the protester pinned down by security. “That’s exhibit A.”

Following the event, DeSantis addressed the protesters, saying, “I’m not going to let these numbnuts rush the stage or do anything like that, but I mean people that ask normal, respectful questions, we’re happy to do.”

This instance came just days after DeSantis was interrupted by protesters believed to be affiliated with the Sunrise Movement during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday.

In Ames, DeSantis was introduced and joined onstage by Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the conservative group The Family Leader. Vander Plaats, an influential evangelical leader who extended a highly coveted endorsement to DeSantis in late November, commands a significant following among one of Iowa’s largest voting blocs.

Nikki Haley speaks before a crowd of 200 in Ankeny on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. Haley, a former South Carolina Governor, is battling current Florida Governor Ron Desantis for second place in the Iowa Caucuses, which take place on Monday, Jan. 15. (Zach Spindler-Krage)

Haley keeps things short, with no audience questions

At her Ankeny event, Haley told voters that a Trump victory in Iowa is not a given.

“I would ask the people of Iowa what they think — what you think,” Haley said. “Because you’re still making up your mind. You’re still figuring out where you want to go. But what I do know is, I trust you.”

Her plea to Iowa voters comes a week after she told New Hampshire voters that she trusts them to “correct” the results of the Iowa caucuses, a quote that was heavily criticized by DeSantis during the CNN debate.

Haley spoke briefly about foreign policy, touting her experience as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and telling voters it’s time for new leadership.

“You deserve an America without chaos,” Haley said. “You deserve an America without drama. You deserve an America that’s better than … what we got.”

Parts of Haley’s speech in Ankeny were verbatim of her CNN town hall remarks, particularly as she repeated calls for voters to visit “” to see what she alleges are “false attacks” made by DeSantis against her record.

“I finally put it on my website,” Haley said. “So go there, it answers a lot of questions from any commercials that you’ve seen. And let’s focus on what we’re going to do to stop this drama.”

Haley concluded her speech in less than 20 minutes and did not offer attendees the chance to ask questions. Haley also reiterated to voters not to complain about the result of the election if they do not participate in the caucuses, a comment that initially drew attention on Tuesday.

See more photos of Haley’s event in Ankeny and DeSantis’ event in Ames.

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About the Contributor
Zach Spindler-Krage, News Editor
Zach Spindler-Krage is a third-year political science major and policy studies concentrator. He is from Rochester, Minnesota and has an unbelievable amount of state pride. Zach spends his time hiking, playing and listening to music, trying to submit op-eds for every class writing assignment, and wishing he was in Minnesota.
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    Ethan HughesJan 12, 2024 at 6:04 pm

    Great Article!