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GOP presidential candidates flock to Story County Fairgrounds tailgate ahead of Cy-Hawk game

A half-dozen Republican presidential candidates converged at the Story County Fairgrounds in the hopes of appealing to Iowa voters Saturday morning ahead of the Cy-Hawk game in Ames.

A few hundred people lined stands and seats in the fairgrounds arena for the 4th Congressional District Presidential Tailgate and Straw Poll in Nevada to listen to the Republican hopefuls before many of them moved on to woo tailgaters and football fans outside of Jack Trice Stadium. Attendees cast their votes for their favorite speaker after the event in an unofficial poll to be announced during halftime at the game.

An estimated 300 people attended the presidential tailgate. On a stage decorated with red tractors and a massive, American flag, candidates spoke to the audience one by one for 15 to 20 minutes each.

Present were former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, the Rev. E.W. Jackson, Texas minister and businessman Ryan Binkley, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra also took the stage ahead of the candidates. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikky Haley appeared on a jumbo screen next to the stage with a recorded message, and Perry Johnson, who previously confirmed his attendance, was replaced by an on-screen advertisement.

Crowds began to dwindle by the time Ramaswamy took the stage at about noon, with less than 100 people in the audience.

At halftime, the straw poll results were announced. With 144 participants: Trump, 37%; Ramaswamy, 21%; DeSantis, 13%; and Haley, 9%. The other candidates combined got votes for the remaining 20%, except Christie, who had no votes.

Here’s what happened:

Asa Hutchinson defends himself against Trump’s new nickname

Hutchinson defended himself against a jab from former President Donald Trump who gave him the nickname “Ada” while speaking during the Monumental Leaders Rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, this week.

“My name’s Asa and he has a different name for me,” he said. “And that’s OK, I’m thinking, why is he picking on me? He’s up here in the polls and I’m down here in the polls. Why is he worried about me?”

Hutchinson, who has been among the few openly critical candidates of Trump, reiterated that he was the “right direction” and Trump is the “wrong direction” for the country, adding that he is not intimidated by the former president.

Hutchinson, who spoke about the economy, border protection and the fentanyl crisis, told attendees he’s in the race because the Republican party needs a new direction that gets the country back to the principles of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, a direction in which America is a leader.

Will Hurd introduces himself before addressing southern border security

Hurd took time to introduce himself to the attendees before largely focusing on border security issues.

“I’m Will Hurd. I’m from Texas. I’m a momma’s boy. My head has literally been this size since I was 4 years old,” he said as the crowd responded laughing.

He spoke about being the son of interracial parents: “My parents moved to the town and the house that they were in because it was the only neighborhood that would sell to an interracial couple. Fast forward 35 years, their youngest son was a member of Congress.”

Hurd, who has previously been undeterred from criticizing the former president, largely avoided mentioning Trump during his speech. Instead, he laid out his ideas on how to secure the southern border, which included stopping treating everyone who tries to come through as asylum seekers; treating the cartels like the “terrorists they are”; incorporating technology such as artificial intelligence and drones to capture people crossing the border; and investing more into Border Patrol.

“If Joe Biden was serious about solving this problem, he would fire Sec. (Alejandro) Mayorkas. If Kamala Harris was serious about solving this problem, she would realize going to a taqueria in El Paso is not a border visit,” he said. “We need people that understand this problem and know how to solve it.”

Farmer, former U.S. House candidate Gary Leffler, stands in for Donald Trump

Farmer and former Republican U.S. House candidate Gary Leffler, who took the stage to represent Trump, blamed Democrats for Trump’s recent criminal indictments.

“They decided rather than tee it up and rather than compete, and rather than go after him in a fair way, they want to do political assassination and run President Trump through all of these court hearings and through all of this nonsense. It’s just nothing but a bunch of nonsense,” Leffler said.

On his Saturday visit to Iowa, Trump skipped the rally to stop by the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house ahead of the Cy-Hawk football game, where he was greeted by a crowd of cheering students who chanted his name, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

Trump also skipped the first GOP presidential primary debate, which was held in Milwaukee Aug. 23. Still, he leads the field of Republican presidential contenders by a double-digit margin in Iowa, according to an Aug. 23 Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

The Rev. E.W. Jackson shares ‘zero-tolerance’ policy ideas for southern border

E.W. Jackson told listeners he is running for president to help preserve and protect America from being turned into a “totalitarian, Marxist, socialist state.”

“People are trying to destroy this nation as we know it, and if you don’t understand that, you don’t get to get anywhere near the White House,” Jackson said.

Jackson called himself the most conservative candidate in the race, largely because of his “zero-tolerance policy” ideas for the southern border, which would call for a policy to ban people crossing the border illegally from ever becoming U.S. citizens and deporting every immigrant who comes illegally.

Jackson also addressed issues such as his stance against abortion and railed against equity, inclusion and diversity.

“My vision for America not to come back to constitutional governance for us to come back to family as God designed it,” he said. “My vision for our country is for us to be a meritocracy.”

Ryan Binkley wants to rescue the country from ‘financial catastrophe’

Binkley talked about freedoms being “damaged,” including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of commerce.

“At every single moment, our freedoms are being captured, and they’re being put away with,” Binkley said. “It’s time for us to shine this lamp of freedom that the United States is supposed to exhibit all the more and the time for that is now.”

Pointing to inflation and soaring interest rates, Binkley said he is running to rescue the county from “financial catastrophe.”

“You all remember the Great Recession 15 years ago? We are on the cusp of something horrible. I see a perfect storm unless we lead through it correctly and that’s why I’m running,” he said. “Because if we don’t take care of this right now, I believe this: Our generation will be known as the generation that prospered the most that sacrificed the least.”

Doug Burgum says he understands ‘common sense, small-town values’

Burgum says the few things delegated to the federal government, such as energy, food security and national security, get an “F” rating.

“We’re going 180 degrees in all directions on all of that,” Burgum said.

Burgum, who serves as governor of North Dakota and is a wealthy software investor, told attendees he’s running because “there’s never been a farm kid from the Midwest … somebody who understands common sense, small town values, but understands how the world economy works, understands how a state works. We’ve never had an opportunity to put someone like that in the White House.”

Similarly to Binkley, Burgum touched on the troubles with the economy and blamed the Biden Administration for inflationary and energy policies such as subsidies on 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.

Vivek Ramaswamy promotes ‘speaking openly again’

Entrepreneur Ramaswamy told the audience that in order to “close the gap” between what is said in public and private people need to start “speaking openly again.”

Ramaswamy, the youngest Republican to run for president, denounced what he called the new secular “religions” of “racial woke-ism,” gender ideology, “climate religion,” “COVID-ism” and “transgenderism,” saying those things have replaced concepts like patriotism, free speech and faith, and the “pursuit of excellence.”

He also said conservatives who have fallen into the trap of simply criticizing other viewpoints must do more.

“Now is our moment to level up,” he said. “We’re going to stand for a vision of our own, grounded in the value of each individual: The family, the nation, God. That beats race, gender, sexuality and climate if we have the courage to actually stand for something.”

Source: Des Moines Register