by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republicans in this Midwestern battleground fiercely miss having Donald Trump in the White House, but, when asked if they want the former president to seek reelection a second time, in 2024, hesitation abounds.
“That’s a good question,” said Jose Laracuent, 59, who lives in suburban Des Moines. “He set the bar in many ways, and I think there’s other politicians who can build on what he’s already built.” Laracuent’s wife, Shelley, was more decisive. “I’d like to see another generation.” Both spoke with the Washington Examiner while attending the annual Lincoln Dinner fundraising gala for the Iowa Republican Party, headlined by potential 2024 contender Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador.
Publicly, Trump is undecided on a third presidential bid, although he regularly alludes to another campaign. Privately, the former president is telling confidants he plans to run, and this month began hitting the road again for his signature rallies and pre-rally festivals. Trump remains extraordinarily popular with grassroots Republicans. Yet, there are signs even these loyal voters might want fresh leadership in 2024, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis topping Trump in a recent straw poll.
In Iowa, where Trump won big in the general election — twice, Republican activists are expressing a range of views on his political future. Some, like the Laracuents, would prefer the former president sit the next race out. Nearly eight months after Trump was defeated by President Joe Biden and slightly more than five months after he left office, many simply cannot make up their minds.
“I was very happy” with his presidency, Cheri Richards, 75, of Ottumwa, said. “He and I are exactly the same age, and so, I don’t know how that would play out.” Pressed on whether she wants him to run or would prefer he step aside to make way for new blood, Richards said: “I am unsure.”