DES MOINES, Iowa – Presidential hopefuls descended on Iowa over the weekend for the opening days of the Iowa state fair. While President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump hold resounding leads in their primaries, voters CBN News spoke with suggested these races could be more open than polls indicate.
Every four years the annual Iowa state fair turns into a destination for political tourists. People from all over the country come to meet, hear and maybe even flip a pork chop alongside candidates vying for their support in the presidential election.
Those in the crowded GOP field did their best to stand out, with crowd-pleasing Vivek Ramaswamy even wooing voters by rapping his favorite walkout song, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.
Candidates from both sides stumped from the famous soapbox, and a few republicans joined Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for a fair side chat.
“I’ve had enough of the swamp imposing its will on us,” DeSantis told his fellow GOP governor. “Now is the time we, the people, impose our will on it.”
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump paved his own path at this year’s fair.
“More importantly than anything right now, we’re up 50 points in Iowa, 5-0,” Trump told reporters as he walked the fair surrounded by huge crowds.
Trump arrived with an entourage of nine Fllorida congressmen who endorsed him over Gov. DeSantis.
“We’re going to take care of our country, we’re going to take care of Iowa, and you’re going to be proud of our country again,” Trump told supporters during his Iowa visit.
Meanwhile around the fair, Trump fans taunted his opponents. Ten minutes into Gov. Ron DeSantis sitting down for a “fair-side” chat with Gov. Kim Reynolds, security had to remove a group of people causing a commotion by drowning out the Florida governor with cowbells and whistles.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was also confronted a few times at the fair by people calling him a traitor, while others approached him and thanked him for his actions on January 6th.
During South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s soapbox speech, a few young men held a sign behind her that read “eat a corndog, you coward” as she proudly donned a shirt that read, “underestimate me, that’ll be fun.”
CBN News spoke to multiple Republican voters hanging out around the soapbox to hear the candidates come through who cast doubts about Trump’s resounding lead in the polls.
“I think it’s time to look beyond President Trump,” Perry Gleasing told CBN News. “He did great things for this country, but it’s time to move forward and look to the next generation of republican leaders.”
“I don’t put a lot of faith in polls, I don’t think he’s as far ahead as what the polls are making him to be,” speculated Richard Young.
Many Republican voters raised concerns about the tone coming from the former president and whether he’s electable in a general election.
Terry Snyder of Wisconsin told CBN News she has 5 conservative children, but their views on President Trump are deeply divided.
“I like Donald Trump and I totally support his policies, but for some reason just to say his name to some people, they seem to have a crazy reaction, a visceral reaction – to the point where it concerns me he may never be able to win,” explained Snyder.
“I think maybe God’s taken away some of his protection,” commented Patrick from Oskaloosa, Iowa.
While the Democratic frontrunner, President Joe Biden, doesn’t plan to make a stop at this year’s fair, his two opponents both attended, and both had sizable crowds gather around to hear them speak.
“Today, 57% of the country are not making enough money to pay for basic human needs,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., as he made his case for change in Democratic leadership.
Democratic voters gathering around to hear Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., told CBN News they wish the Democratic party was holding primary debates, too.
“We should welcome debates, conversations. Debating one another is where truth is found and where new ideas are birthed,” said Amanda from Iowa.
GOP candidates will continue to blitz the Hawkeye state until Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus in January, but democrats are shaking up their primary calendar next year and won’t head to the polls until South Carolina at the start of February.