With one day left to sway voters, Republican presidential candidates are holding their final events in the Hawkeye State.
“I’ve probably been to more pizza ranches than I have to gyms in the last six months,” Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said during a December event in Atlantic, Iowa.
From former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley’s pictures with the Iowa State Fair Butter Cow – to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ visit to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, candidates have held events across Iowa for the last year.
“I’m going to use every minute I can to be able to win votes,” DeSantis said at an event last week in Ankeny, IA.
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Between all of the town halls and diner visits, some voters are still unsure of who they plan to support.
“I’ve kind of narrowed it down to Haley and DeSantis,” Retired U.S. Army Reserves Col. Mike Treinen said.
Treinen served during the Vietnam War and says veterans’ issues are important to him.
“With Iran and Israel, those are heavy duty issues,” Treinen said. “There are a lot of people who would like to think that we’re already at war with Iran.”
Former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, right, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, appearing at a Republican presidential nomination debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
He is also concerned about national defense and the crisis at the southern border. He wants a candidate who can beat President Joe Biden.
“I will not vote for Biden under any circumstances,” Treinen said. “I think he just shows a complete failure of leadership, trying to always duck the issue, blame it on somebody else. A lot of poor ideas, the pullout from Afghanistan, the runaway inflation, the border.”
Brian Smith works at a hospital in Des Moines. When Fox first spoke with him four years ago, he was undecided between Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, with healthcare driving his decision.
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“They all partially have really great answers. But I just don’t see the one,” Smith said four years ago.
Since 2020, he’s gotten married and works as a dietitian. He ultimately decided to caucus for President Biden and plans to support him again in the general election. But for the caucuses, he is considering participating with the Republicans.
“I have thought about looking at the landscape, who’s running, who’s on the Republican side? Is it worth my time, or is it worth putting my voice towards the Republican Party to see what we can do to change the direction we’ve been in,” Smith said.
Iowa allows caucus-goers to change their party affiliation on the day they attend. Smith says he wants to send a message with his caucus decision, and show is opposition to former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump participates in a Fox News Town Hall on January 10, 2024, in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I know that he has some great ideas. I understand that, but the chaos that he’s left, it just disappoints me horribly,” Smith said. “We need someone who really is concerned about the common good. And Donald Trump just does not seem to have that in mind.”
Cody Stoos wants to see President Trump elected once again.
“When I’m thinking about who and what matters to me is kind of ignoring that outside noise and instead just focusing on things that could affect me,” Stoos said.
He was once a Barack Obama supporter but changed his affiliation to Republican, to support President Trump.
“A lot of push away from previous ideologies that I maybe had being an Obama supporter, seeing some of the effects of that presidency verses some of the positive effects that I actually experienced with my family under the Trump presidency,” Stoos said.
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Stoos likes the former president’s America First platform. He believes President Trump can ramp up domestic supply chains and address the border crisis.
“Putting our safety and security first and worrying about things that affect our day to day moneywise especially,” Stoos said when asked what the most important issues to him were.
Stoos’ wife is a school teacher and they have two kids. He believes President Trump’s policies are good for future generations.
“My role as a father is to take care of my family first and foremost,” Stoos said. “I see President Trump as doing the same thing for our country.”
Donald Trump arrives on stage during a campaign event at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Rachel Geilenfeld is the Iowa State chair of the Women for Nikki campaign and plans to caucus for the former Ambassador to the U.N. on Monday. She says she’s prepared for the expected frigid temperatures.
“I grew up in Iowa. It’s fine. It’s just another Monday,” Geilenfeld said.
She believes Haley is the best option to address issues like the national debt.
“I think many people are familiar with Nikki’s background as a U.N. ambassador, former governor. But one thing I really like about her personally, is her background as an accountant,” Geilenfeld said. “I think she’s a problem solver, and I really think that we need somebody to lead our country who has both the experience and the will to address the issue of the national debt.”
Geilenfeld also believes Haley is the most electable candidate and will be able to move the country forward.
“I think voters are so tired of the dysfunction and vitriol in politics. I think one thing that Nikki represents is turning a page,” Geilenfeld explained. “We need somebody who is going to rise above some of this pettiness and really sit down at a table with adults and solve some of these issues.”
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If Haley is not the nominee, Geilenfeld says she’s unsure who she will vote for in the general election. She does believe the former South Carolina governor has done enough to win over Iowa caucus-goers.
“In Iowa, there are still some undecided voters,” Geilenfeld said. “We’ll see if [the weather] impacts a candidate who maybe has a huge lead in this race. But I would say Nikki’s supporters are very dedicated.”