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Which GOP presidential wannabes are visiting Iowa in the 2022 campaign season?

A view of the Iowa State Fairgrounds from the Sky Glider. The 2022 Iowa State Fair runs Aug. 11 to 21. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The Iowa presidential caucuses are still a long way off, but potential presidential candidates are visiting the state ahead of the Nov. 7 midterm election.

No top politicians have officially announced plans to run for president in 2024. President Joe Biden has indicated he plans to run for re-election, but has not launched a campaign. Former President Donald Trump, who Biden defeated in the 2020 election, has also not said if he’s running again.

Still, Iowa Republican candidates in the upcoming midterm elections have been joined on the campaign trail by a flurry of national politicians, some of who may be looking at the 2024 caucuses. Iowa Democrats, in contrast, have seen far fewer high-ranking visitors.

There’s another high-profile opportunity to visit Iowa in August: the Iowa State Fair. Many candidates up for election in Iowa this year will speak at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox during the fair this year, but there are no out-of-state speakers scheduled.

While they won’t be on the stump, some political visitors still have plans to drop by the Iowa State Fair this year. Here’s what we know so far about upcoming Iowa visits:

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to return to Iowa with Grassley
Tuesday August 16, 2022 5:08 pm

A 2016 caucus veteran is returning to the Iowa campaign trail this week.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz will speak at an event supporting U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley Aug. 18 in Clear Lake, the Dallas County Republicans announced on Twitter. Linda Upmeyer, co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, and local leaders will also speak at the event supporting Grassley.

Cruz won the Republican Iowa Caucuses in 2016, though he ultimately lost the nomination to former President Donald Trump.

Cruz was last in Iowa in 2021, supporting U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson as she announced her campaign for re-election. He said earlier this month he will “wait and see” if Trump plans to run for president again in 2024 before announcing his own campaign plans.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham criticizes inflation bill during Des Moines visit
Thursday August 11, 2022 6:00 pm

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, in Des Moines Thursday, said Democrats’ plan to stop inflation will hurt small businesses.

The South Carolina Republican held a press conference with Iowa congressional candidate Zach Nunn about the “Inflation Reduction Act” and toured a local business, MacDonald Letter Service.

The bill, approved Sunday by the U.S. Senate, allocates more than $400 billion toward measures fighting climate change, reducing prescription drug prices and raising some corporate taxes.

Graham has criticized the Democrat-backed legislation, which is expected to pass the House Friday before gaining final approval from President Joe Biden. Nunn predicted his Democratic opponent U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne would vote for the bill, which he claimed would hurt small businesses.

Graham last visited Iowa during his 2016 presidential run. He dropped out before the Iowa caucuses and endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan visits Iowa State Fair
Thursday, August 11, 5:28 pm

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spent his Thursday in the Iowa Pork Producers tent at the Iowa State Fair, flipping chops with Gov. Kim Reynolds.

His visit was a non-official — but required — stop for presidential candidates in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. But the Republican governor, known as a strong critic of former President Donald Trump, did not say whether he is planning a presidential run.

“I care about country and I care about our party and I definitely want to be a voice and I want to play some role in the future,” Hogan told the Des Moines Register Thursday. “Exactly what that is, I’m not quite sure.”

Regardless of his plans for 2024, Hogan’s time as Maryland’s top elected official is nearly over. Maryland has a two consecutive term limit for the office, and Hogan’s successor will be voted in this November.

Hogan’s replacement pick, Kelly Schulz, lost to far-right state legislator Dan Cox, who Trump endorsed in Maryland’s gubernatorial primary this July. Trump has not said whether he plans to run for president again in the next presidential election following his loss to President Joe Biden in 2020.

Ahead of his Iowa visit, Hogan unveiled a proposal to curb crime and help law enforcement. The plan includes increased funding for police and having federal prosecutors take on cases involving assault of police officers.

He spent Thursday morning in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra and local law enforcement in Boone. Hogan also planned to meet with first responders in Iowa to talk about the proposal.

The Republican governor also visited New Hampshire in July. Before this trip, Hogan last visited Iowa was in 2019 at a National Governors Association meeting.

Mike Pence to visit Iowa State Fair with Grassley
Monday August 8 4:36 pm

Former Vice President Mike Pence plans to be in Iowa Aug. 19 and 20, according to Politico.

Pence will head to the Iowa State Fair with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and other officials, as well as hosting a fundraising luncheon with the longtime senator, who is running for re-election this year. Planned stops also include a meeting with State Sen. Zach Nunn, who is running in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, and a party hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

It’s not his first trip to Iowa this year. He spoke at a Republican convention in Carroll this April. Since Biden’s win, Pence has held a tenuous position among some Republican voters for disagreeing with Trump on the validity of 2020 election results.

Pence has said that he’s proud of the work done during the Trump administration, especially U.S. Supreme Court appointments. But in recent weeks, he’s broken with Trump through endorsements. He and Trump held campaign events the same day in Arizona in support of different candidates for governor ahead of the state’s Aug. 2 primary, with Pence supporting Karrin Taylor Robson and Trump supporting Kari Lake.

There are rumors of other politicians visiting Iowa for the state fair: Aides of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Associated Press he is planning an August visit. However, no other potential candidates have announced official plans.

Earlier visits

In July, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton visited Iowa in support of Nunn, who is campaigning to defeat U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, and headlined a Story County GOP Dinner in Cambridge.

Nikki Haley, former U.N. Ambassador, came in June. Her stops included a private fundraiser for Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is running for re-election, and campaign stops for Republican U.S. House candidates.

Trump last visited Iowa in October 2021, holding a rally in Des Moines where he endorsed Grassley. He’s not the only Iowa caucus veteran to come back to the state ahead of the midterm elections. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential nominating cycle, also visited the state last year.

Caucus questions

It’s still unclear what’s in store for the Democratic presidential nomination process come 2024. The Democratic National Committee is requiring Iowa and other longtime early nominating states to compete with other states for first-in-the-nation positions. Iowa Democrats made their case to the national party in June, but the 2024 line-up will not be decided until after the midterm elections.

Regardless of whether Iowa is one of the first states in the nomination process, it’s unclear whether Democrats’ 2024 primary cycle will be an incumbent race or a free-for-all field. A July New York Times/Siena College poll found 64% of Democrats said they wanted to nominate a new candidate for president in 2024.

Biden has said recently that he plans to run for re-election in the next election cycle. No prominent Democrats have announced plans to run against him.

Republicans’ upcoming presidential nominating cycle looks comparatively normal. The party has already committed to holding the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa in 2024.

Robin Opsahl is a reporter for the Iowa Capital Dispatch, which first published this report.

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Which GOP presidential wannabes are visiting Iowa in the 2022 campaign season?