Former President Trump enjoyed a raucous reception from Iowa football fans as he overshadowed his Republican rivals at an interstate grudge match.
Trump was mobbed by fans as he entered the stadium at the Iowa vs Iowa State showdown, while his nearest challenger Ron DeSantis seemed to be met with a mixed reaction.
The game was billed as a significant early moment in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, with the two candidates crossing paths before tens of thousands in the state where voters get the first say in the race, by caucus.
After Trump waded through fans, he watched from inside a glass box surrounded by secret service agents while DeSantis sat in the bleachers alongside popular Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.
The dueling appearances come as Trump continues to hold a commanding lead in his fight for a second term, where he holds 52.7 percent of support among Republican voters compared to DeSantis’ modest 13.3 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll aggregator.
Before his grandstand entrance, Trump made a stop at an Iowa State University frat house where he flipped burgers and signed footballs for students.
Trump made a grandstand entrance at the Iowa showdown by wading through the masses
DeSantis sat in the bleachers with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, while Trump opted for a glass box surrounded by secret service agents
Trump sat in a glass box at the interstate showdown, which put him on full view for thousands of attendees and allowed them to show both their support or distaste at the former president
Before the game got started, DeSantis joined tailgates outside the stadium for both the Iowa and Iowa State universities, while Trump opted for an extremely public showing by wading through the masses.
DeSantis was joined on his jaunt through the awaiting football fans by Reynolds, who is yet to make an endorsement in the race but has made numerous appearances with the Florida governor in the state in recent weeks.
When asked who he was rooting for, DeSantis said he wasn’t going to ‘do anything to upset’ Reynolds, an Iowa State graduate.
His campaign says it has visited more than half the state’s 99 counties since he launched his candidacy, while Trump has made just five visits to Iowa.
Saturday’s clash between the warring campaigns is the second time in a month after they also squared off at the Iowa State Fair.
In a repeat of Trump’s warm Iowa football reception, he also overshadowed his rivals at the fair in a show of strength as his polling lead stretched further ahead.
After he was mobbed by fans on his way in, Trump made his way into an exclusive box to enjoy the game in Jack Trice Stadium
DeSantis took the opportunity to greet Iowans, who will be the first to caucus in the Republican presidential race
The Florida Governor takes a photo with supporters at an Iowa State Wrestling tailgate before the game got underway
DeSantis toured through tailgates to speak to Iowa voters ahead of the game
While President Biden is looking to have a clean run at the Democratic nomination after Robert F Kennedy’s candidacy floundered in recent weeks, the Republican race has entered the stage where it usually ramps up after Labor Day.
Back in February, polls showed DeSantis had all but closed the gap on Trump, with one showing him reaching 38.8 percent support to the former president’s 40.8.
But the favorable support came before DeSantis had even announced his candidacy in May, and a disastrous launch on Twitter has been seemingly difficult for the Florida governor to overcome.
Despite being almost 40 points behind, DeSantis was seen shaking hands and taking selfies with numerous fans at the game alongside Reynolds.
DeSantis and Reynolds were joined by Carson King, 24 – the Iowa native that started a foundation to raise money for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital by asking for beer money with a funny sign.
DeSantis told reporters they were having a good time and said: ‘It’s quite an atmosphere, probably a little bit more civilized than the Florida-Georgia game.’
As expected with tens of thousands of voters packed into the stadium, both candidates were met with varying reactions – with one DeSantis selfie showing a disgruntled attendee flipping the bird behind him.
DeSantis was seen shaking hands and taking selfies with voters at the game, with one cheeky fan taking the opportunity to flip him the bird in the background of one photograph
Before his grandstand entrance at the Iowa interstate football game, Trump stopped by the Alpha Gamma Ro Agriculture Fraternity House at Iowa State University
The former president signed footballs and threw them into the younger crowd
Two other Republican presidential hopefuls – North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson – also appeared at the game and reportedly greeted each other.
Hutchinson told reporters he was rooting for the underdog. He said: I’m an underdog in this race and I want underdogs to win.’
This was similarly seen with the reception Trump received, as the cheering crowd was interspersed with boos and heckles as he moved through the rabble.
His view from the glass box, where he remained in full view of thousands throughout the game, also saw voters both cheer and wave at him while others showed their distaste for the former president.
Trump’s dominance of the field in Iowa – where varying polls show him with a 25 point-plus lead in the state – led DeSantis’ campaign to admit this week they would be satisfied with a ‘strong second-place showing’.
His campaign added that their goal is to whittle the contest down to a two-horse race in the coming months, with the eight other candidates fighting for the nomination seen as splitting the non-Trump electorate.
Earlier in the day, Trump stopped by the Alpha Gamma Ro Agriculture Fraternity House at Iowa State University to greet a younger audience, where he flipped burgers and signed footballs before throwing them into the crowd.
Fraternity members chanted ‘Donald’ as the former president made another seemingly popular appearance in the first-in-the-nation voting state.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12500423/Don-1-Ron-0-Trump-surrounded-huge-cheering-mob-attends-Iowa-football-game-DeSantis-receives-muted-welcome-bleachers.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Don, 1: Ron, 0! Trump is surrounded by huge cheering mob as he attends same Iowa football game as DeSantis – who receives more muted welcome in bleachers