Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Sunday that she does not believe voters will give GOP front-runner and former President Donald Trump a pass for skipping the Iowa State Fair events that candidates usually entertain.
Reynolds told “Fox News Sunday” that voters in her state “expect him to be here, they want to interact,” after Trump skipped events like her “fair-side chats” and the Des Moines Register soapbox.
Reynolds said she may endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses next year. While she has no immediate plans to make an endorsement, her popularity among Republicans in Iowa makes her a potential asset. A late endorsement from Reynolds could sway voters, adding a wrinkle of unpredictability ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
“I’m remaining neutral, but I don’t want to rule it out down the road. I think it is really important right now to, as I’ve said, encourage all of the candidates to come to Iowa,” Reynolds said on Sunday. “I don’t want to rule out” an endorsement, she added.
The GOP presidential field currently has 12 candidates and all of the major candidates competing in Iowa accepted Reynolds’ invitation to her fair-side chats – except Trump.
The former president visited the Iowa State Fair last week but skipped the chats and soapbox opportunities. He still drew a massive crowd.
Last month, Trump lashed out at Reynolds for remaining neutral and for even appearing alongside other candidates who have invited her to events across Iowa. In a social media post, Trump claimed credit for Reynolds’ ascent to the governorship and chastised her for not supporting him. Reynolds, as the state’s lieutenant governor, succeeded Gov. Terry Branstad in 2017 after Branstad became Trump’s ambassador to China. She was elected to a first full term the following year.
Reynolds took umbrage with the former president taking credit for her election, noting that the 2018 midterms saw Republicans suffer substantial losses in Congress and in statehouses across the country.
“It’s actually Iowans who made the decision to elect me in a really tough year,” Reynolds said. “2018 was not a good year for Republicans.”
The Iowa governor said on Sunday that Republican voters “want the candidate that they think can win” the general election.
“I think we have a great field of candidates right now and I think we don’t need more candidates in the field, we probably need less,” Reynolds said about potential late entrants into the GOP contest. “These candidates have put in a lot of time, we have a great field of candidates and we probably don’t need more.”