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DES MOINES, Iowa – As 2024 hopefuls descend upon the Iowa State Fair, top state GOP leaders tell Fox News Digital that the state is uniquely positioned to help America choose presidential nominees due to its “retail politics” style, and that President Biden’s failures will propel Republicans to victory in the upcoming midterms.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Vice President Mike Pence are a few of the potential 2024 contenders that have stopped through Iowa in recent months. 

“I’ve been meeting and interviewing and having events with these individuals literally for over a year now,” Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told Fox News Digital Friday.

“We just had Tim Scott from South Carolina up here. He really connected with audiences, Iowa GOP members. [Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN] Nikki Haley was just up here in Dubuque. She had the crowds listening to her every word. Rick Scott has been up here a couple of times. Tom Cotton has probably been up here the most and has crisscrossed, I don’t know, [about] of a quarter of the state. Mike Pompeo is getting a really good reception. The former vice president [Pence] is here again…and he’ll be coming back again, I know, in the not-too-distant future,” explained Kaufmann. 


Pork producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Pork producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (FOX NEWS DIGITAL//Kelly Laco)

The massive Iowa State Fair is a top attraction for presidential hopefuls. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan made the trip out to the fair earlier this week. Pence is slotted to walk around the fair Friday with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, as they stop by popular tents and speak with constituents. 

Co-chair of the Iowa Republican Party Linda Upmeyer, who was the first female elected to be the state’s speaker of the house, said the Iowa State Fair is unique due to the fact that it attracts so many 2024 potential candidates.

“I think one of the unique things about Iowa is a number of candidates and, of course, presidential candidates. When people are getting close to those elections and choosing for the caucuses, we get a lot of candidates and spend really substantial time with them. They get on the soap box, they talk,” said Upmeyer.

Pork producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Pork producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (FOX NEWS DIGITAL//Kelly Laco)

She said that although Rick Scott, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo and others have come to Iowa recently, she doesn’t try to read too much into their motives behind visiting the state.  


“I think it’s important for the whole country that Iowa keep its first in the nation,” Upmeyer said, referring to the state’s status as the first primary caucus, which could change. 

“We Iowans, I mean, really uniquely have set very high expectations for every candidate. It’s a state with a size and a geography that you can do great retail politics. So everybody expects that they’re going to have an opportunity to actually look their candidate in the eye, shake their hand, ask them a question,” Upmeyer explained.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said Iowan Republican leaders are beholden to out-of-state influences.

“While Kim Reynolds and Chuck Grassley take their orders from Washington insiders, Iowa Democrats are committed to putting people over politics and listening to the concerns of our neighbors in every corner of our state,” he said, referring to the state’s governor and its senior senator.”Kim Reynolds and Chuck Grassley support a national abortion ban with no exceptions and want to siphon public dollars away from our world-class public schools to unaccountable, out-of-state corporations.”Their agenda could not be further from what Iowans want – and Iowa Republicans know it. That’s why they’re doing everything they can to muddy the waters. But Iowans won’t be fooled by their lies and misinformation.”

Cattle show at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Cattle show at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (FOX NEWS DIGITAL//Kelly Laco)

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman held a press call Friday morning to coincide with Pence’s arrival on the fairgrounds, criticizing his strong pro-life stance.

“Mike Pence is trying to run away from his record as Trump’s MAGA wingman and is hitting the road to promote his extreme anti-choice agenda in Iowa,” said DNC Spokesperson Ammar Moussa. “We can count on Mike Pence to make his plan to ban abortion in every state the new litmus test for Republicans — and we’ll be here to hold them accountable every single day.”

When asked about the abortion issue impacting turnout at the polls, Upmeyer told Fox News Digital that people are misinterpreting the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade.


“What the Supreme Court said is the decision should be made in the states. So as the decision is made in the state, we have the perfect opportunity for a lot of debate and discussion. Instead, it seems like people have gone to their corners and decided what this means. So I think that, you know, it remains to be seen who benefits, who, who loses,” she said.

Kaufmann said momentum going into the midterms for the GOP is unmatched due to Iowans’ rejection of Biden’s policies.

“Iowans are rejecting Biden in large numbers. I mean, the independents that are rejecting Biden, the Democrats are rejecting Biden. So the question really isn’t Biden’s standing, it’s if the rejection of Biden is going to affect other Democrats. I mean, that really is the question here,” said Kaufmann. 

The chairman said he doesn’t even have to try “too hard” to tie Democratic candidates to Biden, which he says will be helpful for the party.

Pork producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Pork producers tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (FOX NEWS DIGITAL//Kelly Laco)

As for top issues for voters, Kaufmann cites inflation and energy “hands down” as the top two.

“As far as the issues, there’s a bunch of sub-issues. Absolutely, positively: inflation and energy costs,” said Kaufmann.

Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson echoed Kaufmann, telling Fox News Digital Friday in front of the fair’s pork producers tent that “economy, economy, economy” is top of mind for Iowan voters.

“Well, I think it’s all economy, economy, economy. I mean, you look around the state fair, it’s all what you’re putting on your plate in celebration of Iowa agriculture. But I think everybody here is very sensitive to food prices, the cost of things, the cost of goods and services. So inflation and supply chain are going to be what drives this election,” Hinson said.

Kelly Laco is a politics editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @kelly_laco.

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