Trump allies urge a wake-up call for his lagging Iowa campaign operation

As the stretch run to the Iowa caucuses begins, Trump’s polling lead belies a small campaign organization getting outstripped by rivals.

Sep 8, 2023 - 19:43
Trump allies urge a wake-up call for his lagging Iowa campaign operation

A number of Donald Trump’s allies are growing concerned that his lead in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses isn’t built to last. 

Trump supporters are trying to beef up the campaign’s lean Iowa operation with more experienced hires. They are scrambling to fill roles handling regional political work around the state — jobs that “should have been filled six to eight months ago,” according to one Republican operative based in Iowa.

And they are preparing for months of battle against Republican presidential opponents who trail badly in the polls but have built better machinery to find and secure votes, according to interviews with a dozen sources including longtime Trump campaign allies, state and local officials in Iowa and GOP strategists.

The fretting extends even to Trump’s own family members. One Trump-supporting source in Iowa, who spoke out in an effort to spur change in the campaign, described a phone call with the former president’s son Donald Trump Jr. in which he worried about a lack of experience on the campaign’s Iowa team and said multiple times that they need “an adult in the room.”

Trump Jr. was concerned “that they were running from behind in getting things going, and that there was concern about that at the highest levels,” the source said, adding that “they were giving [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis too many opportunities.”

In response, Trump Jr. told NBC News, “As usual, this is 100% fake news, in what is likely the last breath from the dying Ron DeSanctimonious campaign.”

The stakes in Iowa are clear. If Trump wins the first contest of 2024, where he starts with a strong polling lead in what was one of his weaker states in 2016, his rivals may not be able to stop him steamrolling through the rest of the nominating process. But demonstrating Trump’s vulnerability early could open a window to defeating him — which is among the big reasons DeSantis, still Trump’s closest rival in polls, is digging into Iowa while cutting back operations elsewhere.

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