DES MOINES, IOWA – On the eve of former President Trump’s return to Iowa for the primary time since final yr’s election, Eric Branstad and his team have been busy placing the ending touches on the venue website on the Iowa State Fairgrounds the place Trump will maintain a rally on Saturday.

“The president loves Iowa. I think he loves Iowa more than any other state,” Branstad, who steered Trump’s marketing campaign efforts in the Hawkeye State in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, mentioned.

The former president made headlines in the political world in August when his Save America political motion committee employed Branstad, a veteran marketing campaign operative who additionally labored in the Trump administration and who’s the son of former longtime Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad (who served as ambassador to China in the course of the Trump administration), as a senior adviser. Also coming on board the PAC in the identical capability was fellow Iowa native Alex Latcham, Trump’s Iowa political director in the course of the 2016 normal election marketing campaign and a deputy political director in the Trump White House.

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The hires in the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar clearly sparked extra hypothesis that Trump is gearing up for an additional White House run.

But the youthful Branstad advised Fox News that the 2022 midterms fairly than the 2024 presidential election are on the high of his agenda. He mentioned he and the remainder of the previous president’s team in Iowa “are focused on electing Republicans up and down the ticket. That’s where our focus is.”

And whereas their focus isn’t just on Iowa – they’re advising on races throughout the nation – there’s no denying that the Hawkeye State will get loads of marketing campaign consideration subsequent yr, when the GOP goals to win again majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate. Republicans want a internet acquire of 1 seat to retake management in the 100-member Senate and a internet acquire of 5 seats in the 435-member House.

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Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and longtime GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who’re up for reelection subsequent yr, will converse at Saturday’s rally forward of Trump. So will the state’s three GOP House members. Two of them – Reps. Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks – gained their seats by razor skinny margins final November and can seemingly face difficult reelections. And the GOP is focusing on the state’s solely Democrat in the House, Rep. Cindy Axne, who narrowly gained reelection final yr.

“Gov. Reynolds is going to be here. Sen. Grassley is going to be here. We’ve got an all-star cast. All of our Republican congressional delegation,” Branstad highlighted. “We are excited to welcome thousands and thousands of people to see President Trump.”

While Trump might make some 2022 endorsements throughout his rally on the fairgrounds, it will likely be exhausting to flee the 2024 story line.

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Trump repeatedly teases making one other presidential run to try to return to the White House, telling Fox News in an interview final month that “I don’t think we’re going to have a choice.” 

The former president mentioned in an e mail to supporters earlier this week that  “IOWA is absolutely critical to our efforts to take back the House and Senate in 2022, and then the White House in 2024.”

Workers on the website of former President Trump’s Iowa rally put the ending touches on the venue on the Iowa State Fairgrounds on the eve of the occasion, on Oct. 8, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa
(Fox News)

And Trump’s hires of Branstad and Latcham sparked extra hypothesis.

“If he has the intention to run, there’s no two better people to hire than those two,” longtime Iowa based mostly GOP advisor David Kochel mentioned. “If you’re going to do it, or even if you’re going to send the signal that you may run, that’s the move that you make.”

WHAT TRUMP TOLD FOX NEWS ABOUT A 2024 WHITE HOUSE RUN

Kochel, a veteran of quite a few Republican presidential campaigns, famous that “they’re both very effective operatives and a pretty formidable team and they’d be tough to beat.”

Trump stays highly regarded and influential with Republican voters as he continues to play a kingmaker’s position in GOP main politics, and he can be the clear frontrunner for his social gathering’s presidential nomination if he decides to run. But his repeated flirtations have prevented different potential 2024 contenders from making visits to Iowa in addition to New Hampshire, which for a century has held the primary presidential main, and South Carolina and Nevada, the opposite two early voting states.

Trump’s team in Iowa could also be a warning signal to different potential rivals.

 Bob Vander Plaats, who for a dozen years has served as president and CEO of The Family Leader, a high social conservative group in Iowa, tells Fox News the hiring of Branstad and Latcham is “definitely a message” that if Trump needs to get organized in Iowa, he can do it shortly.

And he famous that whereas most of the different doable GOP White House hopefuls have PACs, they “aren’t employing staff in the early states, especially Iowa.”

Asked if having employees on the bottom in Iowa gives the previous president a leg up, Branstad mentioned “I would like to certainly think so.”