Yes, while all the energy is on the Democratic side, there is actually a Republican caucus underway in Iowa. President Trump made a big arena appearance in the Des Moines area on Thursday evening and his two opponents—former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor (and 2016 Libertarian VP nominee) Bill Weld—are in the state this weekend.
Weld did a series of stops in Des Moines today, including a meet and greet (and press availability) at Raygun, the quirky t-shirt shop in the East Village. He was traveling with former longtime moderate Republican congressman Jim Leach of Iowa. Before buying a couple of shirts (including a Patrick Mahones-themed shirt on Super Bowl Sunday), Weld answered questions from the press on his expectations for Monday and his purpose for putting himself through the campaign. Although he has higher hopes for his vote share in his neighboring state of New Hampshire, Weld recognizes that in Iowa — as in many states — the state party organization is “merged with the Trump campaign.”
Weld pointed to three themes in explaining his candidacy against Trump and Trumpism:
*The ongoing attacks on the rule of law. Weld said that Trump is “on his way to becoming a dictator…a tyrant.”
*Trumpism’s attacks on political debate and discussion. Weld linked together the elimination of party primaries in 2020 in many states and the shutting down of witnesses during the US Senate debate on impeachment (“Let’s prevent anyone from talking about anything.”)
*Weld’s deep concerns about Trump’s disengagement with foreign affairs, including senior national security officials’ reports that “after one minute of briefing, the light in his eyes goes out.”
Weld knows he won’t come anywhere close to victory but says his goal is “to exceed expectations,” which are nonexistent in Iowa.