WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was quickly projected to be the winner of the Republican caucuses in Iowa on Monday, defeating several minor candidates who are challenging the president for the GOP nomination.
NBC News projected around 7:20 p.m. CT that Trump won, beating candidates Joe Walsh, a conservative radio host and former member of Congress, and Bill Weld, who was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 until 1997.
Trump celebrated his expected victory several hours later on Twitter, as results were delayed from the Democratic caucuses.
Earlier in the day, Trump encouraged Iowans to caucus Monday to support him, tweeting: "Republicans in Iowa, go out and Caucus today. Your great Trade Deals with China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, South Korea and more, are DONE. Great times are coming, after waiting for decades, for our Farmers, Ranchers, Manufacturers and ALL. Nobody else could have pulled this off!"
He also blasted out a video ad from his campaign on Twitter. The president was in Des Moines on Thursday hosting a Keep America Great rally for his supporters. He focused much of his remarks on the candidates running for the Democratic nomination.
"We are having probably the best years that we have ever had in the history of our country. And I just got impeached. Can you believe these people? I got impeached. They impeached Trump," he said. "No, that's not gonna work. Watch. Just watch."
Trump's campaign had dispatched 80 surrogates to Iowa in the days before the caucuses, including Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr. and numerous Cabinet and other White House officials. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, tweeted a photo of him and other surrogates, including former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, in Iowa on Monday.
They were also joined by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., according to the president's campaign.
Trump's projected win came as the Senate trial was wrapping up in Washington, as House managers delivered their closing arguments in favor of convicting the president and the Trump legal team, by contrast, urged the GOP-controlled Senate to acquit him.
According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Trump trails top Democrats in hypothetical general election matchups. The survey found that Joe Biden leads Trump by 6 percentage points, though that's down from Biden's 9-point lead in October. The poll also found that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., leads Trump by 4 percentage points.
The president, on the other hand, narrowly leads Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, by 1 percentage point.
Forty-six percent of voters said they approved of Trump's job as president in the poll, while 51 percent said they disapproved of his performance.