At the first big event for the 2024 Presidential election — yes, things do start this early — every major potential Republican contender for the GOP primary spoke about standing up to the “radical left” and President Biden’s agenda. No surprise there. The Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa is seen by most political wonks as a key early bellwether for conservatives. After all, 1,200 evangelicals attend, and most of the key players in the GOP sphere are there, including former VP Mike Pence.
What was unexpected was a decidedly unscientific but still illuminating bit of insight in a story in the Boston Globe that suggests voters in Iowa may be ready to move on from Donald Trump.
I didn’t expect this: “But in interviews with 15 people at the conference, all of whom voted for Trump, none said they hoped the former president would run again.”https://t.co/rZu0LEzed4 via @BostonGlobe
— James Pindell (@JamesPindell) July 16, 2021
White evangelicals showed immense loyalty to Trump, and many still appear to support him. But as writer James Pindell notes in his story, there is a feeling among even those who still call themselves Trump supporters think his time has come and gone.
Here’s what one Trump supporter told Pindell:
“I agree with pretty much everything Trump did on policy as president, but I don’t think it would be good for him or good for the country if he ran again,” said Ken Hayes, a retired nonprofit worker from rural Fort Dodge, who said he prayed for Trump every day the man was in office.
Pindell talked with 15 people at the conference who said they voted for Trump in 2020. None said they wished he would make another White House run in 2024. Here’s what another said.
“I am interested in who comes next,” said 58-year-old Cheryl Prall.
Even Republican voters who believe Trump’s false claims about election fraud being the reason why he lost to Joe Biden, there is a sense that it is time “to move on to the next election.”
And so far in Iowa, that is what some Republican hopefuls are trying to do, in different ways.
Former Vice President Mike Pence tried to walk a delicate tightrope on Friday by simultaneously praising the work of “our administration” without actually mentioning the name of the man whose supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” during the Jan. 6 Insurrection. He preferred to focus on fighting President Biden’s “radical left” agenda.
“After 177 days of open borders, higher taxes, runaway spending, defunding the police, abortion on demand, censoring free speech, canceling our most cherished liberties, I’ve had enough.”
South Dakota Governor Kristie Noem didn’t mention Trump either, but was clearly pandering to his base by boasting about how she resisted calls to lock down her state during the pandemic.
Ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did mention the former president by name, when he said Trump called him after seeing a report that called Pompeo his most loyal Cabinet member. Neither one said would answer questions if they were planning to run for President. To do that would be to risk crossing the famously vindictive and spotlight-craving former president.
The general sense seems to be that Trump’s obsession with focusing on the 2020 election isn’t going to help win back the White House in 2024.
“A lot of the people I’m talking to sort of realize that 2020 happened and we need to focus on 2024 if we’re going to get anything done, because worrying about the past isn’t going to help,” Ronald Forsell, the Republican Party chair in Dallas County, told the Globe.
To be clear, Trump is still incredibly popular in Iowa. According to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released last month, 84 percent of Iowa Republicans said they would vote for Trump again if he ran for President. And one key Republican consultant told the Globe that, if Trump did run again in 2024, he would win the Iowa caucus “without a doubt.”
But the longer he waits to make his decision, the more time other contenders have to lay the groundwork for their own campaigns. Which could help convince more people that it is indeed time for the GOP to move on from Trump.