Former President Donald Trump soared to a first-place finish in the Iowa Caucus on Monday night in an expected win, but the results of the first-in-the-nation primary contest will set the tone for several upcoming battles.
Trump, 77, was projected to win the race by the Associated Press a half hour after caucusgoers entered locations to cast their ballots for the 2024 GOP presidential nominee. The ex-president was followed by DeSantis, 45, in a distant second and Haley, 51, in third place.
“The people of Iowa sent a clear message tonight: Donald Trump will be the next Republican nominee for President. It’s now time to make him the next President of the United States,” Make America Great Again Inc. spokesman Alex Pfeiffer said in a statement.
“Joe Biden’s team just announced a massive war chest. Every dollar spent by President Trump’s primary losers is a dollar that could be fighting Joe Biden. Once the DC RINOs are finished crying in their cocktails over tonight’s results, it’s time for Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy to face reality and stop wasting time and resources.”
But none of the candidates are planning to drop out as of now, hoping that polling in other primary states or at least one of Trump’s indictments could complicate his path to the Republican presidential nomination.
The candidates will vie in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in the coming weeks before heading to Michigan, Missouri and North Dakota in late February and early March.
The Florida governor reassured his supporters that he was “in it for the long haul” — despite having largely ignored campaign events in the second primary state of New Hampshire.
He is planning to board a plane to South Carolina at the conclusion of the Iowa contest, where he will try to pull off an upset win against Haley on her home turf but likely in another second-place finish to Trump, polls show.
Haley had outperformed DeSantis among Granite State voters and even came within single digits of the 45th president in some polls.
She is expected to pick up even more voters with the departure of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie from the race last week and is looking for a surprise victory over the former president in New Hampshire.
“I don’t play for second,” the former South Carolina governor has often responded when asked whether she would make a bid for Trump’s vice presidential pick.
Meanwhile, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has expressed no desire to suspend his campaign, saying in recent social media posts that the Iowa contest was “RIGGED” and that Haley’s surge in recent months was orchestrated by “puppet masters.”
The former president upped his attacks against Ramaswamy in the final days before the Iowa Caucus, dismissing the 38-year-old candidate for having “PLAYED IT TOO ‘CUTE’” with his campaign in the early days of the Republican primary.
Trump is still facing two federal cases for his attempts to overturn 2020 election results and allegedly retain classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
He also was charged for allegedly committing business fraud by making “hush money” payments to a porn star in Manhattan before the 2016 election and again for trying to reverse the 2020 election in Georgia.
The former president has also been kicked off the ballot in Colorado and Maine, and the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for an appeal to the first case on Feb. 8.
Ramaswamy said the indictments and efforts to remove Trump from the ballot were an attempt to elevate Haley by the “system” and narrow it to a “2-horse race.”
“I respect the hell out of Trump. He’s the best President of the 21st century. I’ve defended him at every step against the unjust persecutions,” he posted Saturday on X.
“But OPEN YOUR EYES to the hard TRUTH: this system will stop at nothing to keep this man away from the White House. Just because it’s wrong doesn’t mean it won’t happen & we owe it to our nation to take America-First forward.”
By Super Tuesday, the GOP nominating contest’s medley of primary elections on March 5, the eventual party candidate will have likely emerged — around the same time that Trump is scheduled to appear for his first federal trial.