Trump Rally

People wait for a rally with former President Donald Trump to begin at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.

DES MOINES — Former President Donald Trump ruminated on election fraud and Democratic wrongdoing Saturday while teasing a potential 2024 run during a rally in Des Moines.

Trump gave a warm greeting to Iowans, congratulating the Hawkeyes on their win against Penn State. He touted his win in Iowa in 2020 and his latest Des Moines Register/Iowa Poll numbers.

“As disastrous as the Biden administration has been, no one can blame the great state of Iowa because boy, we did really, really great here,” he said.

Saturday was Trump’s first visit to Iowa since before the 2020 election. Though he has not announced his candidacy for 2024, Trump gave a campaign-style stump speech, railing against President Joe Biden and emphasizing his own success in office. He joked with the audience about a potential new slogan: “Make America Great Again, again.”

Throughout his speech Saturday, Trump continued to claim that he won the 2020 election, noting that he “never conceded.”

“Remember, this is not about me being robbed of an election,” he said. “This is about the American people having their country taken away from them.”

He spoke in detail about specific grievances with specific states, arguing that widespread fraud had occurred to prevent him from taking office. To date, there has been no evidence of large-scale fraud in the election and multiple court cases on the matter have been thrown out. 

Even so, Trump noted that he gets the “biggest cheers” when speaking about election fraud. He advocated for a complete overhaul to the election system “to ensure it’s free, fair, honest and able to be fully and quickly audited.”

Another major through-line of the speech was that Biden had undone the success of his administration. “If Biden had just gone to the beach,” Trump joked, the southern border would have remained secure. 

He emphasized crime as a growing issue in the U.S., alleging that other countries were intentionally bringing criminals into the country and that there were “bloodthirsty gangs” roaming the streets.

On policy, Trump lingered on a Democrat-led spending bill that would include a wide range of Biden’s priorities, like free community college and a child tax credit.

“We cannot allow America to ever become a socialist country. That’s what they’re doing,” he said. “And I really think it’s a step beyond that, to be a communist country.”

Trump also spent a large chunk of the speech on Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, focusing on the decision to leave behind equipment.

“We should have taken everything,” he said. “Most importantly, we shouldn’t have lost 13 warriors.”

He said the withdrawal was “the most embarrassing event in the history of America.”

The vast majority of Trump’s nearly two-hour address was focused on critique of the Biden administration, praising his own record and claiming election fraud, but Trump also repeatedly told the crowd to vote out Democrats next November.

“Practically every single Democrat lawmaker in the House and Senate has endorsed this deranged legislation,” Trump said, referring to the spending bill. “And that’s why every single one of them needs to be voted out of office next November.”

Trump endorsed U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in his bid for re-election, calling the 88-year-old young, strong and “very handsome.”

“If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” Grassley said. “I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement.”

Iowa Democrats have criticized Grassley and other Republicans for aligning themselves with Trump even after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“Iowa Republicans have tied themselves to a man who attacked the foundations of our democracy throughout his time in office,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said in a statement.

Trump said he also plans to endorse Gov. Kim Reynolds but would not do it officially on Saturday at her request in order to keep the spotlight on Grassley.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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