CNN

Trump returns to Iowa in the wake of blockbuster ‘insurrectionist ban’ ruling

Nov 18, 2023, 6:21 PM

Former President Donald Trump is returning to Iowa on Saturday, just eight weeks before the January...

Former President Donald Trump is returning to Iowa on Saturday, just eight weeks before the January 15 Iowa Republican caucuses. In this October 7 photo, Tump rallied with supporters in Waterloo. (Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

(Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump returned to Iowa on Saturday, a day after a Colorado court rejected efforts to ban him from the state’s 2024 ballot.

While the Colorado judge ruled Friday that Trump “engaged in an insurrection,” she found that the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection ban” doesn’t apply to presidents.

“Today, the radical left Democrats and their allies in the fake news media … are having an absolute meltdown because last night our campaign won a gigantic court victory in Colorado,” Trump said at a Saturday rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

While he slammed Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace as being a “radical left judge who was saying a lot of things that weren’t nice,” he added, “in the end she saw the light.”

With the ruling, Colorado joins Minnesota and Michigan, where judges have previously refused to remove Trump from those states’ Republican primary ballots.

Countdown to the Republican caucuses

Trump’s Iowa visit comes just eight weeks before the state’s Jan. 15 Republican caucuses, as the former president aggressively campaigns in the Hawkeye State in an attempt to quell any possibility that one of his rivals could catch up to him.

Trump’s team is heading into this final stretch feeling confident in his standing, an adviser to the former president told CNN, pointing to his continued dominance in Iowa polls. A recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll found 43% of likely Republican caucusgoers picking Trump as their first choice, with his closest rivals receiving just 16%.

But Trump warned Iowans on Saturday not to get complacent just because he’s performing so well in the polls.

“You know the worst thing you can do is say, ‘Oh you know we’re going to stay because he’s leading by so much.’ Get out and vote,” he said, because there “have been some bad surprises.”

The other GOP presidential candidates have also been hitting the ground relentlessly in Iowa as the caucuses draw nearer. On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy converged in Des Moines for an event hosted by a prominent evangelical Christian organization.

Trump notably chose to skip the forum. Although he was invited, he opted instead to host the event in Fort Dodge on Saturday, a move in line with his snubs of other gatherings over the course of the campaign, including the three GOP presidential primary debates.

Rivals critical of the former President

His absence posed an opportunity for his rivals to attack him on Friday night.

DeSantis, whose campaign has pursued an all-out strategy in the state in the hopes that a potential Iowa win could build enough momentum to carry him through the other primaries, called Trump’s candidacy “high risk with low reward.”

“As a lame duck with poor personnel and the distractions, it’s going to be hard for him to get this done,” DeSantis said. “My candidacy is lower risk because we’ll run Biden ragged around this country, but high reward because you get a two-term conservative president who’s going to stand for your values and deliver for you for eight full years.”

At recent Iowa rallies, Trump has used his remarks to take shots at his primary opponents – especially DeSantis. The former president has repeatedly attacked the former Florida governor’s record on energy policy, a top concern of corn farmers there.

The former president has also focused much of his Iowa remarks on preventing foreign influences from undermining American manufacturing jobs, a message Trump’s campaign argues would resonate with voters in Fort Dodge, home to major national trucking companies.

Taking aim at President Biden and the Democratic party

Additionally, Trump has ramped up his increasingly vitriolic rhetoric against President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party as he attempts to paint the 2024 race as a general election rematch.

Trump repeatedly slammed Biden on Saturday, referencing the congressional investigation into the Biden family’s foreign business dealings and criticizing the president for “looking like he had absolutely no idea … what was happening” during his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Our leader, our leader is a stupid person,” Trump said.

During a New Hampshire rally last weekend, Trump vowed to “root out” the political left and characterized the “radical left” as “thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” Those comments received a wave of backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike, including many of his GOP primary rivals.

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Trump returns to Iowa in the wake of blockbuster ‘insurrectionist ban’ ruling