DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Donald Trump predicted Sunday he would win Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses in January, tossing aside what he called advisers’ caution not to overstate expectations, even as he greeted his audience by naming a city in a neighboring state.
“I go around saying of course we’re going to win Iowa. My people said you cannot assume that,” Trump told his audience in the ornate Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa.
“There’s no way Iowa is voting against Trump,” he said, noting the economic benefits to farm states from the tariffs his administration imposed on China.
And yet, when Trump took the stage he gave a hearty hello to a city more than 80 miles north, and over the South Dakota state line. “Hello to a place where we’ve done very well, Sioux Falls. Thank you very much,” he said, before correcting himself several minutes later.
It was Trump’s eighth campaign event in Iowa in a little more than a month, part of the former president’s accelerated fall schedule leading up to the first-in-the-nation caucuses in January.
Trump’s speech in Sioux City, the heart of GOP-heavy western Iowa, followed events over the past month in eastern and central Iowa, where he has drawn thousands of people as his team has attempted to run a more organized campaign than in 2016, when the celebrity, real estate mogul was unfamiliar with the process.
While Trump has for months attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the former president stepped up his criticism Sunday of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, a member of Trump’s Cabinet, as she has sparked new curiosity among Iowa Republicans and a bump in polls.
Trump mocked Haley, who is also the former governor of South Carolina, for saying after leaving the United Nations post that she would not run for president if Trump also did in 2024.
Using the derogatory nickname “bird brain” for her, he described Haley as “a highly overrated person.”
Trump went on to suggest that a reason he appointed Haley to his Cabinet when she was still governor was to help Henry McMaster, then-South Carolina’s lieutenant governor and a devout Trump supporter, become governor.
“I liked it,” Trump said. “I got two for the price of one.”
Trump’s more pointed criticism of Haley, centered on not her performance in his Cabinet but disloyalty to him, came a day after she criticized him for praising foreign strongmen and warned that his style of “chaos, vendettas and drama” would be dangerous.
Though Haley has used the implied criticism of Trump without naming him for months as she’s campaigned in early-voting states, Saturday was her sharpest critique of the former president as she spoke before the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.
Before Trump took the stage in Sioux City, he was endorsed by Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 GOP nomination but who later served in Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Carson’s endorsement might not seem noteworthy as a member of his Cabinet. However, some members quit Trump’s administration, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, siege of the U.S. Capitol. Both officials cited Trump’s actions the day of the violent attack for their resignation.