Republican Leaders In Iowa Show Full Support For Donald Trump
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Let's hear now from Republicans who have no trouble supporting Donald Trump. Party leaders remain divided, to say the least, on their presidential candidate, and many will not appear with him. But Iowa Republicans have taken a different approach. Here's Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters.
CLAY MASTERS, BYLINE: Go to a Donald Trump rally in Iowa, and you'll likely see one of the state's top Republicans as an opening speaker, from the governor to its two U.S. senators. In fact, Governor Terry Branstad's son Eric Branstad is managing Trump's Iowa effort, and Branstad's lieutenant governor, Kim Reynold's, stood with a group of women in front of the Iowa state capitol on the day after Trump unveiled his child care plan.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
KIM REYNOLDS: I believe that the Trump-Pence ticket is the team that can turn this country around, improve the lives of Americans and Iowans and especially those of women.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump...
MASTERS: She's singing a much different tune about Trump than she did a year ago when he was still trying to fend off 16 other presidential hopefuls in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. Reynolds had said comments Trump made about then-competitor Carly Fiorina's face were unacceptable.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
REYNOLDS: I don't find it acceptable in politics. I don't find it acceptable in business. I don't find it acceptable anywhere.
MASTERS: What's changed? It's a general election, and Republicans here don't want to relive 2012 when President Obama won Iowa for the second time. So every one of Iowa's top Republicans have fallen in line. That mirrors a push by the Republican National Committee, which is targeting the state and flooding it with technology and troops. Lindsay Jancek is with the RNC.
LINDSAY JANCEK: One of those things that had to change was our ground game and our data. And so we invested a lot of money in a state-of-the-art, data-driven operation across the country and especially in key battleground states like here in Iowa.
MASTERS: On this day, field organizer Jillian Dunker is knocking doors in suburban Des Moines.
JILLIAN DUNKER: My name's Jillian. This is Bill.
BILL: I'm Bill.
DUNKER: We're just volunteering with the Republican Party...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Perfect.
DUNKER: ...Passing out some information about Trump and local candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'll take it.
MASTERS: When door knockers leave a house, they pull out their smartphones.
DUNKER: So we're just going in the survey responses on the app.
MASTERS: The app is tricked out with GPS and voter information, and they're not just targeting Republicans. They're going after soft Democrats and independents. Republicans have more registered voters than Democrats here, but there's more no party voters than either. Iowa Republicans have started playing more like Democrats and pushing early voting, and now they're filling in a gap in the Trump campaign that they spotted in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. Donna Hoffman is a political scientist at the University of Northern Iowa.
DONNA HOFFMAN: They didn't have field offices. They weren't sending out people to knock on doors. You know, the way that they were trying to organize the state - if you can even call it that - was very untraditional.
MASTERS: So with a nontraditional firebrand presidential candidate, the party has a unified front and nuts-and-bolts support in the effort to win this state that's gone Democratic in six of the last seven elections. For NPR News, I'm Clay Masters in Des Moines.
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