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Donald Trump during an event in Davenport, Iowa
Donald Trump during an event in Davenport, Iowa, on Monday. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Eyes on 2024: Trump critical of DeSantis in first Iowa trip

Trump called DeSantis “a disciple of Paul Ryan, adding: “To be honest with you, Ron reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney."

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Former President Donald Trump made his first trip to Iowa since launching another presidential run late last year, and he took aim at a chief rival who hasn’t even jumped into the race yet. 

Trump slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom he dubbed “DeSanctis” and “DeSanctimonious,” for his positions on ethanol and entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare, NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard, Jonathan Allen, Kevin Urgiles and Abby Goddard report from Davenport.

Trump called DeSantis “a disciple of Paul Ryan, adding: “To be honest with you, Ron reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney,” the GOP’s 2012 standard bearer-turned-Utah senator who is a staunch Trump critic.

The NBC News team reports that Trump received a muted response from the crowd when he targeted DeSantis. “The former president’s biggest applause lines came when he talked about hot-button social issues, such as banning critical race theory from schools and transgender athletes from women’s sports,” Allen wrote.

This all comes as a new national CNN poll shows Trump as the choice of 40% of Republicans, followed by DeSantis at 36%. No other Republicans 2024er reaches double digits. 

In other campaign news:

Stuck in the middle with you: President Joe Biden is breaking with progressives on multiple fronts as he approaches an expected re-election campaign announcement, NBC News’ Sahil Kapur reports. The latest came on Monday when Bidenapproved a 30-year oil and gas project in Alaska despite calling during his presidential campaign to halt drilling on federal lands. 

Dividing line: DeSantis told Fox News in a questionnaire that protecting Ukraine is not a “vital” interest for the U.S., NBC News’ Sahil Kapur and Jonathan Allen report, as support for the war against Russia has become an early dividing line among current and potential presidential candidates.

Setting his plans in granite: DeSantis is making his first trip to New Hampshire next month, per NBC News’ Julia Jester, his latest trip to an early state on the presidential nominating calendar. 

Legal drama: Trump has decided not to appear before a New York City grand jury investigating a hush money payment to an adult film actor during his 2016 presidential run.

Not entitled: GOP presidential contender Nikki Haley, in South Carolina, proposed protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits for seniors, but altering them for younger people and “anyone new coming into the system,” per the Associated Press. She also floated raising the retirement age “so that it matches life expectancy” in a Fox News interview.

Throwbacks: The New York Times delves into how Trump’s 2016 rivals for the GOP nomination “are either skipping the 2024 cycle or have bowed out of national politics altogether.”

Primary plans: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Richard Hudson, R-N.C., told Fox News Monday that the committee doesn’t plan to “get involved in open-seat primaries by endorsing candidates,” but that “you may see us get involved earlier in terms of helping people build better campaigns” to help the party ahead of a general election. 

FDICulture war: Republicans, and Republican presidential hopefuls, are criticizing Silicon Valley Bank as a “woke” bank amid its collapse, despite little evidence the bank’s collapse had anything to do with something other than mismanaging its bond risks amid rising inflation. 

Drawing new battle lines: The battle for the House next year could be shaped by the courts, with redistricting lawsuits in North Carolina and Ohio potentially giving Republicans an edge in their bid to hold onto their narrow majority, per Politico.