Trump’s absence angered the forum’s organizers, Christian advocacy group The Family Leader, which argued the former president was wasting an opportunity to align with evangelicals in Iowa, a key Republican voting bloc.
Iowa will hold its first Republican nomination contest on January 15, when voters choose their preferences to face Democratic President Joe Biden in November 2024. Candidates with significant evangelical support have won the state in recent years.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and US Senator Tim Scott will be among the candidates appearing at the forum, to It will be moderated by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Trump’s campaign said he had a scheduling conflict.
DeSantis, who national polls show is the most viable challenger to Trump, is Accreditation In winning Iowa to steer his campaign and slow Trump’s momentum.
with a lead in the national poll of about 30 percentage points, Trump seems to want to connect with Iowa voters on his own terms. After coming under fire for skipping the evangelistic event, his campaign announced that he would return to Iowa for town hall next week.
The former president also caused an uproar in Iowa this week by criticizing the state’s popular Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, and suggesting she backs DeSantis despite her pledge to be neutral in the contest.
This led to The Family Leader’s president and CEO, Bob Vander Platts, saying on Twitter that Trump going after Reynolds wasn’t smart and that the race in the state was “wide open.”
The former chairman of the state’s Republican Party, Cody Hofert, has publicly stated that he will no longer support Trump after his attack on Reynolds.
Reynolds is expected to appear at the forum on Friday and sign a six-week abortion ban This week passed By the Iowa Legislature. Trump has criticized such restrictions as politically divisive.
(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colin Jenkins and Alistair Bell)