The consequences of Donald Trump’s verbal assault on Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds are manifesting. Iowa state senator Jeff Reichman, who had previously endorsed Trump, announced yesterday that he is switching sides to endorse Ron DeSantis.
“Iowa Republicans must be united if we are going to take our country back and reverse Joe Biden’s failures,” Reichman said in a statement. “Gov. DeSantis has achieved the same type of commonsense policy victories in Florida as we have in Iowa under Gov. Kim Reynolds, and he will deliver historic success for the conservative movement as president as well.”
I can appreciate Iowans sticking together, sticking up for their friends. But forgive me if I don’t put a ton of stock in Reichman’s endorsement of DeSantis or DeSantis’s commonsense policy victories. As of forty-eight hours ago, Reichman had a standing endorsement of Trump.
Donald Trump Just Doesn’t Care
Trump attacked Reynolds on Monday. Why? The New York Times published a report showing that Reynolds was a frequent attendee at DeSantis campaign events. “In response, Trump released a statement saying Reynolds, who has pledged she will not officially endorse anyone in the primary, would not be governor if not for him, since he appointed her predecessor, Terry Branstad, to his administration. Trump also noted that he had previously endorsed Reynolds,” POLITICO reported.
“Now, she wants to remain ‘NEUTRAL,’” Trump said. “I don’t invite her to events!”
Is anyone surprised? This is vintage Trump. Temperamental. Self-destructive. Short-sighted. Petulant. Insulting the popular governor of the lead-off primary state just doesn’t have much of an upside. But that’s not how Trump thinks. And to Trump’s credit, his political instincts have served him pretty well. He does and says what he wants to so consistently and brashly that he has endeared himself to millions of voters who find the former president authentic or something.
Part of the reason Trump has been able to get away with so much of his destructive behavior is because, through most of his tenure, most of his party has been completely unwilling to stand up against him. Reichman’s endorsement of DeSantis suggests that perhaps we’ve entered a new era where denouncing Trump doesn’t equate to a political death sentence.
In reaction to Reichman’s defection, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said “There is no room for weak-kneed and lily-livered people on Team Trump.” Cheung also accused Team DeSantis of buying off Reichman with the promise of a fundraising event and an endorsement. “The truth is that those who have been promised financial support are now regretting their deal with the devil because none of them have been able to schedule fundraisers with DeSantis.”
High stakes in Iowa
The DeSantis campaign, widely understood to be losing traction in the race for the GOP nomination, is betting big on early primary states like Iowa. So, the Trump-Reynolds-Reichman spat is going to be encouraging to the DeSantis campaign, as is the blowback Trump is facing for deciding to skip the Family Leadership Summit. Really, Trump has been pretty absent. He also skipped a recent event that Iowa Senator Joni Ernst hosted. The DeSantis campaign hopes to highlight Trump’s absences through DeSantis’s frequent attendance. Will it be enough? “With Reichman’s endorsement, DeSantis now has the support of 38 state legislators,” but I’m not yet willing to count Trump out in the Hawkeye State.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.