'If we wait until 2024, we're done': Iowa Trump rally-goers want change before the next presidential election
Christina Ramirez drove five hours to Des Moines looking for one thing: hope.
“Our country is just slipping away little by little," she said. “I want to know if there's any hope for us, for anybody, for this country."

Ramirez was one of thousands to attend a rally for former President Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday. The outdoor event drew Trump fans from across the Midwest and beyond.

“We've been singing, we've been chanting," said Brighton resident Vicki Entsminger, who arrived at the fairgrounds at 9 a.m. “We've been talking about the way it is right now."

Entsminger, 52, said she felt things were “getting a little bit scarier out there" under President Joe Biden. She said things were better during Trump's administration — she and her husband bought a house and a Harley Davidson motorcycle — while they struggled during former President Barack Obama's tenure.

“President Trump had everything perfect," Entsminger said. “And that's what I'm hoping for again."

Crowd eager for another Trump run

Attendees of Saturday's rally were excited by the prospect of another Trump presidency in 2024.

Trump has not officially announced his plans for 2024, but he has frequently teased the idea of another run.

Some attendees hinted toward conspiracy theories that Biden did not actually win the 2020 election, or that Trump would retake the presidency before the next general election.

“I'm ready for him to come back now … If we wait until 2024, we're done," said Nick Bruge of Rock Falls, Illinois.

When asked who else they might be interested in for a 2024 run, attendees mentioned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis most frequently. Other contenders were South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, conservative author Candace Owens, and California governor candidate Larry Elder.

There was broad support for “outsiders" running for office, and distrust of career politicians.

“These politicians are not our friends. The government is not our friend," said Dylan Johnson of Waterloo. “They don't want what's best for us."

Trump is popular among Iowa Republicans, according to a September Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, with 91% of GOP members saying they feel favorable toward him. Trump saw his highest Iowa approval ratings in September.

What issues are ralliers concerned about?

Ralliers shared concerns with a wide range of issues: vaccine mandates, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the economy and more.

Audie Calvert of Freemont, Nebraska, said he was most interested to hear about illegal immigration at the southern border and vaccine mandates.

“Coming across the border illegally like they're letting them do, it's unconstitutional … A country with borders is no country," he said.

Iowa Republicans focused extensively on the border this week, with Gov. Kim Reynolds traveling to Texas for a press conference and Sen. Joni Ernst introduced new legislation on the issue.

Trish Clingan of Prairie City said she would want Trump, if elected again, to fight inflation and put “freedom and personal choice back into everything." She objected specifically to mask and vaccine mandates.

Ramirez also objected to vaccine mandates and especially to health care companies that fire workers who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I'm more fired up because of what's happening in this country," Ramirez said.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.