DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is taking to the airwaves hours before her state’s caucuses lead off the 2024 Republican presidential nominating calendar to raise expectations for former President Trump.
“I think it’s going to be bad for President Trump if he doesn’t come in over 50. He’s not meeting expectations that the media and the polls have been putting out for the past several months,” Reynolds argued in an interview Monday morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
The popular Iowa governor is the top surrogate in the Hawkeye State for Trump’s rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is battling former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for a distant second place in Iowa behind Trump, who is the commanding frontrunner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run.
It is not just Reynolds, either.
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Republican presidential candidate former President Trump speaks at a rally at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
DeSantis campaign manager James Uthmeier, in a Sunday appearance on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” argued that “expectations are high for Trump…he’s got to perform. If he gets less than half the vote, more people voting against him than for him. I think that’s, you know, setting up doom down the road.”
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Haley, in an interview on the same program, noted that people will be looking to see if Trump “is falling below 50%.”
Additionally, Haley’s campaign, in a video Monday morning, spotlighted clips of Trump touting how he is up by 60 points in some polls.
Former U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican presidential candidate, holds up a commit to caucus card during a campaign event at Jethro’s BBQ in Ames, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Trump is confident he will do “very well” in Monday night’s Iowa caucuses.
However, the former president is not ready to make a prediction on whether he will top 50%.
As he left his hotel in Des Moines on Sunday, Trump was asked by Fox News’ James Levinson about whether he would receive more than 50% of the vote in the caucuses.
“I don’t know, I think we are doing very well,” Trump answered. The former president is sitting on extremely large double-digit leads in the latest polls in Iowa as well as in national surveys in the GOP presidential nomination race.
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Trump made history last year as the first former or current president to be indicted for a crime, but his four indictments, including charges he tried to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss, have only fueled his support among Republican voters.
Trump grabbed 50% support or higher in a slew of polls over the past month in Iowa. Additionally, he stood at 48% support in the final Des Moines Register/Mediacom/NBC News poll of likely Republican caucusgoers that was released Saturday night. Haley and DeSantis stood at 20% and 16% in the new survey, respectively.
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, takes the microphone after being introduced at an event in West Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. Also on stage with him are Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, and DeSantis’ wife, Casey DeSantis. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivai)
The closely-watched and highly-anticipated survey, conducted by longtime pollster Ann Selzer, has a well-earned tradition of accuracy in past GOP presidential caucuses, and it is considered by many as the gold standard in Iowa polling.
However, Trump and his campaign are taking aim at the high expectations he faces in Iowa.
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“No one has ever won the Iowa caucus by more than 12%,” Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita told Fox News Digital on Saturday. “I think the public polls are a little rich.”
Trump, speaking with reporters on Sunday, said “there seems to be something about 50%.”
“I think they’re doing it so that they can set a high expectation. So if we end up with 49%, which would be about 25 points bigger than anyone else ever got. They can say he had a failure, it was a failure. You know fake news,” he argued.
However, despite his best efforts, plenty of analysts and pundits will be focusing on how Trump finishes.
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Longtime Republican strategist David Kochel, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns and statewide contests in Iowa, told Fox News “there are two campaigns going on in Iowa right now.”
“One is Trump vs. his expectations and the other one is Haley vs. DeSantis to see who gets the right to take on Trump one-on-one,” noted Kochel, who remains neutral in the Republican presidential caucuses.
Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.