Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley ripped into Republican front-runner Donald Trump in Iowa Saturday as they grappled with blizzard conditions and subzero temperatures — while awaiting the results of a closely watched poll that could signal which one takes second place in Monday’s crucial caucuses.
Trump “thinks you’re stupid,” DeSantis told voters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, saying that the former president was trying to “gaslight” them about his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Donald Trump used to brag he shut down the greatest economy of the world. He said he shut it down and he saved all these lives,” the Florida governor said. “Now he’s saying the opposite” — pointing to a Fox News town hall this week in which Trump told a revised version of the events of 2020.
“He doesn’t think you can realize what he’s saying is totally, totally false,” DeSantis charged.
In Cedar Falls, Iowa, Haley called Trump an agent of “chaos.”
“I think President Trump was the right president at the right time,” the former UN ambassador said. “But rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him.”
Haley cited national polls to boost herself as the Republican most likely to beat President Biden in November’s general election.
“Republicans have lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president, and that’s nothing to be proud of,” she said. “The only way we win the majority of Americans is if we go forward with a new generational conservative leader and leave the negativity and the baggage behind.”
Both Haley and DeSantis trail far behind Trump — who canceled his in-person rallies Saturday due to the dire weather — in the Hawkeye State, polls show.
The RealClearPolitics polling average shows Trump with 53% support among Iowa Republicans, with Haley at 17.8% and DeSantis at 15.5%.
But turnout at Monday’s hours-long caucuses — which require voters to participate in person — could be heavily affected by weather conditions, with up to a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures expected to drop to 10 below zero across the state.