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Iowa caucus highlights: Trump wins, DeSantis takes second in weather-impacted 2024 Republican contest

Vivek Ramaswamy ended his campaign after finishing fourth.

The latest news and updates on the Iowa caucuses:

  • Former President Donald Trump easily won Iowa’s Republican caucuses, NBC News projects, outpacing his nearest competitors to take a big first step toward a 2024 rematch with President Joe Biden.
  • Flordia Gov. Ron DeSantis finished second, NBC News projects, followed by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
  • Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy announced he was ending his presidential campaign and endorsing Trump after finishing fourth.
  • The campaigns and their supporters battled subzero temperatures. The National Weather Service is forecasted life-threatening cold conditions across Iowa, with wind chill values dropping as low as minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Haley appears to win one Iowa county — by just one vote

Haley appears to have eked out a win in one of Iowa's 99 counties — by just one vote.

In Johnson County — the home of Iowa City and the liberal University of Iowa campus — Haley led Trump 1,271 to 1,270, with all of the county's precincts reporting.

Haley's success in the county could be due in part to the fact that Iowa allows same-day party registration for voters. As a result, Democrats and independent voters have the opportunity to register as Republicans and vote in the party's caucuses.

Haley speaks to supporters, congratulates Trump

Haley addressed her supporters shortly after NBC News projected her third-place finish. She said she was grateful for her time with Iowans and congratulated Trump on his projected win.

But she also took the time to draw contrasts between her campaign and the campaigns of Biden and Trump, arguing that the two parties' front-runners have more in common than voters think. She pointed to Americans not wanting a 2020 rematch, as well as Trump's and Biden's ages, and she argued that both men were consumed by the past.

“We deserve a new direction under new conservative leadership," Haley said.

Haley said her campaign is the “last best hope” of stopping the Trump-Biden “nightmare."

NBC News entrance poll: Late deciders break for DeSantis

Two in 10 Iowa Republican caucusgoers waited until the last few days to decide whom to support, according to NBC News entrance poll results. The top choice among the late deciders: DeSantis.

About one-third of caucusgoers (34%) who decided which candidate they would support in the last few days voted for DeSantis, followed by Haley (29%) and Trump (27%).

DeSantis performed well among caucusgoers who said the most important issue facing the country is abortion (51%). Among DeSantis voters, 73% said they favor a federal law banning abortion nationwide — higher than among any other candidate’s supporters. He also secured 35% of voters ages 17-29, 34% of those who said the candidate quality that mattered most is someone who shares their values, and 28% of those who identify as very conservative.

Trump to exceed 50% in Iowa, NBC News projects

Trump will exceed 50% of the vote in Iowa, NBC News projects. He's set to win the state by a historic margin.

NBC News projects Ron DeSantis comes in second in Iowa

DeSantis secured a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, NBC News projects, coming in ahead of Haley, who will finish third.

Vivek Ramaswamy is dropping out of the 2024 presidential race

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy is set to suspend his 2024 presidential bid tonight, according to his campaign, dropping out of the race after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Ramaswamy, 38, was not well known when he entered the race in February in his first run for political office. But he quickly broke through with Republican voters in a campaign that aligned with Trump in both tone and policy substance, as he positioned himself as an heir to the MAGA movement.

Read the full story here.

Trump addresses supporters

Trump delivered victory remarks to supporters in Des Moines after he was projected as the winner of the Iowa caucuses.

The former president congratulated his Republican rivals, saying DeSantis and Haley had a "good time together," adding that he thought they both did very well. He also congratulated Ramaswamy, saying he did "a hell of a job."

Trump also thanked his wife, Melania, and honored her mother, who died this month.

The former president praised North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, saying he hoped he could call on Burgum to be a "very important" part of the administration. Burgum suspended his presidential campaign in December and endorsed Trump yesterday.

Later in his remarks, Trump railed against immigrants crossing the southern border, saying terrorists are coming into the U.S. He also slammed Biden's policies and briefly touched on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, noting that he gets along with Putin and arguing that Ukraine would not have been attacked if he were president.

DeSantis campaign official: He has 'earned his ticket out of Iowa'

A senior official with the DeSantis campaign said tonight that it's in the race for the long haul.

“They threw everything at Ron DeSantis. They couldn’t kill him. He is not only still standing, but he’s now earned his ticket out of Iowa," the official said. “This is going to be a long battle ahead, but that is what this campaign is built for. The stakes are too high for this nation, and we will not back down.”

DeSantis is vying with Haley for a distant second place in the Iowa caucuses behind Trump.

DeSantis delivered brief, forceful remarks tonight at his caucus night watch party.

“They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us,” he said.

DeSantis was later joined on stage by his wife Casey and some of his most prominent supporters, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Trump offers praise for Burgum

Trump says he hopes to be able to call on North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum to be a “very important” piece of his administration.

That puts yesterday’s endorsement by Burgum — who as a GOP presidential candidate said he wouldn’t work with Trump — in new context.

Trump delivers victory speech in Iowa

Folks who haven’t watched Trump speak recently are getting a totally different tone in his victory speech tonight from what you hear at a typical rally/campaign event. Magnanimous and joking, saying nice things about his opponents.

The biggest loser: Turnout

Before the snow came and the temperature dropped below zero and roads were caked in ice, Republicans had predicted this year's turnout for the caucuses would smash records.

Some went so far as to say the number of voters might reach 200,000 — well above the nearly 187,000 who showed up for the last contested Republican caucus in 2016.

Then winter spoke.

With some votes left to be tallied, it was clear that turnout tonight was much lower than had been expected before frigid winds ripped across the state. The NBC News Decision Desk projected that it would amount to about 120,000 voters, more in line with the turnout in 2012 than in 2016.

Ramswamy to hold news conference

Ramaswamy announced on X tonight that he will hold and livestream a news conference at 10:15 CT at Surety Hotel in Des Moines.

Ramaswamy has obtained one delegate, with 68% of the vote in, according to an NBC News tally.

Iowa student who caucused with Ramaswamy unsurprised by Trump's success

A track athlete at the University of Iowa who caucused for Ramaswamy tonight said he was not surprised that Trump appears to have run away with the Iowa caucuses. 

“He’s a very popular man in America,” Joe Stein said of the former president, adding that Americans "had a better lifestyle" when Trump was in office.

Stein said that Ramaswamy lacked name recognition and suggested that he wasn't sure if Iowans "were really aware he was a real option."

Stein said he also wasn't surprised that Haley won all three precincts on the campus of the University of Iowa’s Union building.

“Johnson County is historically a liberal county, and she’s probably the least conservative candidate," Stein said.

Stein also pointed to weather affecting turnout at the caucus sites. 

“I think it took it took a lot of effort for us to get here tonight with the temperatures and it’s easy to be lazy and stay at home and watch the football game,” Stein said.

Caucusgoers frustrated by race projection timing

Some Iowa caucusgoers and DeSantis’ campaign expressed frustration that news outlets projected that Trump had won the caucuses before some of them had the chance to vote.

Sandee Wright, a caucusgoer supporting Ramaswamy, said Trump was projected to be the winner before anyone gave a speech at that precinct location in Scott County.

“I think it’s sort of appalling, actually,” she said, adding: “When there’s a call like that in advance, it sort of says, ‘Oh, it doesn’t really matter that you showed up to the caucus and that you came to actually get more information and make a decision. It’s a done deal.’ So why show up?”

Another caucusgoer told NBC News, “They called the race before my precinct even started voting.”

NBC News was not the first outlet to project Trump would be the winner — a number of outlets called the race shortly after 8:30 p.m. ET. The Iowa caucuses started at 8 p.m. ET.

NBC News makes its projections using a combination of data from entrance polls (in the case of caucuses), votes counted and analysis of statistical models.

In a caucus, voting begins at a certain time and projections are made in part on those results. In primaries, voting ends at a certain time and then votes are tabulated and projections are made.

DeSantis’ campaign also aired its frustrations, both on social media and in an interview with NBC News.

NBC News Iowa entrance poll: Trump edges out Haley among independents

Trump is narrowly beating Haley among independents in the Iowa GOP caucuses, according to NBC News entrance poll results.

Among independents, who made up 16% of caucusgoers tonight, 41% said they were supporting Trump, while 35% said they were backing Haley. Another 12% were behind Ramaswamy, and 10% were for DeSantis.

Who are the independents supporting Trump tonight? They are mostly men (61%), over 45 years old (69%) and college graduates (57%), and they identify as conservative (74%).

As for caucusgoers who identified as Republicans, 52% voted for Trump, compared to 25% for DeSantis and 16% for Haley.

Biden campaign fundraises off of Trump's front-runner status

Biden's campaign sent fundraising emails to supporters, arguing that "we need to work even harder now" after outlets projected Trump to win the Iowa caucuses.

"If Donald Trump is our opponent, we can expect vile attacks, endless lies, and massive spending," the email said. "I know we ask a lot of you -- but I hope I can count on your support in a big moment like this."

The email includes a donation link, asking readers to invest in the campaign and "protect all of the progress we’ve made together."

Trump running 30-plus points ahead of 2016 showing in completed counties

Trump got 71.3% support in Van Buren County and 60.7% support in Decatur County, where all precincts have been counted. That's a 43-point improvement over Trump's 2016 showing in Van Buren and a 35-point improvement in Decatur — both of which went for Ted Cruz eight years ago.

NBC News Iowa entrance poll: Majority of GOP caucusgoers favor a federal law banning abortion

A majority (59%) of Iowa Republican caucusgoers favor a federal law banning most or all abortions nationwide, while 36% oppose such a ban, according to NBC News entrance poll results.

Just 12% of Iowa GOP caucus participants said that abortion is the most important issue facing the country today.

Here's how Iowa Republican caucusgoers who said they favor a federal law banning abortions nationwide break down: Republican (89%), 45 years old and over (77%), evangelical or born-again Christian (68%), very conservative (76%), and male (54%).

Ramaswamy gets a delegate. Trump, Haley, DeSantis each score one more.

Trump, Haley and DeSantis have each ticked up by one delegate. Trump now leads with 17 delegates, while Haley and DeSantis trail behind with five delegates each, according to an NBC News tally. Ramaswamy has also obtained one delegate. That’s with 6% of the vote in.

Delegates breakdown so far

Trump, the projected winner of the Iowa caucuses, leads with 16 delegates, while Haley and DeSantis each have four delegates, according to an NBC News tally. That's with 5% of the vote in.

Trump expected to attend trial for E. Jean Carroll's defamation case on Tuesday

Donald Trump is expected to attend the first day of his damages trial in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation case on Tuesday in New York City, according to two sources with direct knowledge of his plans.

He will then go to New Hampshire for a campaign event Tuesday night. Cameras are not allowed in the U.S. District Court where the case is being heard and it is unlikely the Secret Service would allow Trump to address cameras in front of the courthouse.

NBC News Iowa entrance poll: Trump winning across key voter groups

Trump won nearly every voting bloc in the Iowa Republican caucuses tonight, according to NBC News Entrance Poll results, but he did particularly well among a few groups.

His best showing came from voters who don’t have a college degree (65%), those who identify as very conservative (61%), voters over 65 years old (55%) and white evangelicals (53%).

NBC News Decision Desk has projected Trump as the winner of the Iowa Republican caucuses.


Haley is winning most voters who think Biden won legitimately in 2020

An NBC News entrance poll of Iowa GOP caucusgoers found that Haley is winning 53% of those who think Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. DeSantis is winning 26% of those voters while Trump is winning just 10%.

Those voters are making up just 30% of the Iowa caucus electorate. Meanwhile, 66% of caucusgoers think Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election, and 68% of those voters are backing Trump. Just 16% of those voters are picking DeSantis while an even smaller 6% share are caucusing for Haley.

Diving deeper into the numbers, 40% of DeSantis voters think Biden legitimately won the 2020 contest, while 54% do not. For Haley, the split is 79% yes to 19% no. And 90% of Trump's voters think Biden did not legitimately win, while just 6% think he did.

Iowa voter turnout lower than expected, NBC News Decision Desk estimates

NBC News is currently estimating that there will be about 130,000 caucusgoers, which is a lower turnout than expected. The NBC News Decision Desk made the estimate based off of entrance poll interviews and initial vote returns.

The caucuses come as Iowa faces subzero temperatures. In Des Moines, the temperature dipped to about -4 degrees, but shot down to -21 degrees when factoring in wind chill, according to the National Weather Service.

NBC News entrance poll: Iowa GOP evangelical caucusgoers support Trump

A majority of white evangelicals backed Trump in tonight's Iowa Republican caucuses, according to early NBC News entrance poll results.

Trump's support among white evangelicals (51%) is up 30 points from the 2016 caucuses, according to entrance poll results. 

White evangelicals, or born-again Christians, have historically made up a large voting bloc in Iowa. In 2016, white evangelicals made up 62% of all Republican caucus attendees. That number has decreased to 54% this year.  

Trump speaks to caucusgoers outside Des Moines

Trump arrived at a caucus location tonight to deliver a short speech to Iowans casting ballots.

The crowd appeared to be very receptive to the former president, with audience members frequently punctuating his speech with applause and shouts of "We love you!" It was a stark contrast to the caucusgoers' reaction to the previous speaker, Hutchinson, who is lagging in the polls.

During his brief remarks, Trump slammed Biden and tried to paint a contrast between their approaches to foreign policy and immigration.

Trump also said that he would always keep Iowa as the first state in the presidential nominating contest, a dig at Democrats' decision to make South Carolina the first contest for their candidates.

Donald Trump wins Iowa Republican caucuses

Donald Trump wins Iowa Republican caucus

NBC News projects that Donald Trump has won the Iowa Republican caucuses, with 0.2% of the votes counted so far.

See the latest results here.

NBC News entrance poll: Majority of Iowa GOP caucusgoers say Trump would be fit to be president if convicted

Nearly two-thirds of Iowa Republican caucus participants said that Trump would be fit to be president if he was convicted of a crime, according to early NBC News entrance poll results. 

The survey found that 64% said if Trump were to be convicted of a crime, they would consider him fit to be president, while 31% said he would not be fit for the presidency.

Among those who said Trump would be fit to be president if he was convicted of a crime, 73% caucused for him today. 

Large portions of some key Republican voting groups also said they would consider Trump fit if he was convicted. 

A majority of Iowa caucusgoers who identify as very conservative (62%) said Trump would be fit to be president if he was convicted of a crime, along with a majority of voters who identify as evangelical or born-again Christian (58%) and men (58%).

Harris hits back at Haley: 'Let’s see what Iowa says to her!'

Vice President Kamala Harris, in an interview today with ABC News, fired back at Haley, who has repeatedly framed her campaign as opposition to "a Kamala Harris presidency."

Harris was asked about Haley's criticisms and responded with a laugh saying, "Let’s see what Iowa says to her!"

The vice president also said she was confident President Joe Biden would be re-elected in November. "Let me just tell you this: No matter who the Republican nominee is, we’re winning," Harris said.

Trump holding event in Phoenix later this month

Trump will head to Phoenix for an Arizona Republican event on Jan. 26, three days after the New Hampshire primary and two weeks before the Nevada caucus.

Arizona will hold its primary on March 19 — the date that the Trump team is targeting as the date it’ll hit the delegate threshold to be the party’s presumptive nominee.

NBC News entrance poll: Iowa GOP caucusgoers drawn to candidate who shares their values

A plurality of Iowa Republican caucusgoers said the quality that mattered most to them was that a candidate shared their values, according to early NBC News entrance poll results.

Out of four possible answers, 40% said shared values was the quality that mattered most, while 34% said a candidate who fights for people like them. Another 12% said a candidate with the right temperament mattered most, and 11% said they wanted someone who can defeat President Joe Biden in November.

Telling that only 11% of Iowa Republican caucusgoers feel that being able to defeat Biden is what mattered most in deciding who to support. So much of the message against Trump from DeSantis and Haley was framed around him not being able to beat Biden. And Trump has led them in surveys of the state by double-digits for months.

Trump departs hotel for caucus, teases possible trial appearance

Trump has just departed the Hotel Fort Des Moines for an appearance at a caucus site.

When asked about the possibility that he would speak tomorrow in E. Jean Carroll's defamation case against him in New York, he said "You’re gonna see."

Here’s where the GOP candidates focused their time and energy in Iowa

Republican presidential candidates have crisscrossed Iowa leading up to Monday’s caucuses — but they’ve focused their time and energy on different parts of the state.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has spent the bulk of her time in Des Moines and the cities in eastern Iowa. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made a number of stops in the same areas but also spent more time in Republican-heavy northwest Iowa. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy has been everywhere, and he’s been there a lot.

And then there’s former President Donald Trump, who has had by far the lightest in-person footprint across Iowa before the caucuses, as he maintains a strong lead in public polls.

Read the full story here.

Iowans gathering for caucus voting preview their GOP pick

Iowans have begun gathering for caucuses.

Caucuses kick off across Iowa

Iowans began caucusing at 7 p.m. CT, launching the race for the Republican presidential nominee.

Caucusgoers will hear speeches from supporters of presidential candidates, and then cast their ballots. Precincts will report their results to the Iowa Republican Party.

NBC News entrance poll: Immigration, economy rank as the most important issues to Iowa Republican caucusgoers

Iowa Republican caucusgoers tonight rank immigration as the most important issue facing the country, followed closely by the economy, early NBC News entrance poll results show.

The entrance poll found that 37% of caucus participants said immigration is the most important issue, while 36% chose the economy.

A plurality (44%) of Trump supporters said that immigration is the most important issue facing the nation. Another 38% of Trump supporters said the economy is the most important issue, followed by foreign policy (8%) and abortion (4%).

Haley supporters ranked the economy (28%), foreign policy (27%) and immigration (26%) as the most important issues, followed by abortion (19%).

NBC visits Iowa ‘supercaucus’ site


Potential Trump supporter says she is skipping caucus because of wintery road conditions

Joyce Krebs, a Republican voter in Webster County tells NBC News that she will not be heading to the caucus tonight because of the slick road conditions. “[The snow has] been drifting again this afternoon,” Krebs said. “I would love to and would have enjoyed it. It’s just not a good idea.”

Disappointed, Krebs said that she would have caucused for Trump tonight. She said that in 2016 she did take part in the caucus and backed Ted Cruz.

This brings up a major question: Could Trump’s support in the rural areas be uniquely impacted by the conditions of the roads?

Trump expected to visit a caucus site in Des Moines area

The former president is expected to visit a caucus site tonight in the “greater Des Moines metro area,” according to a source familiar with Trump's activities today.

Trump had a 'laid back' day, spent mostly at his hotel ahead of caucuses

Trump spent today almost entirely inside his Des Moines hotel — leaving only for lunch at the famed 801 Chophouse — and working the phones to reach Iowans via a tele-rally, direct calls to a small group of caucus captains and local and national radio interviews, according to two campaign sources.

The former president thanked five caucus captains for their work and urged them to be on the lookout for misinformation about the caucus, including false claims about sites being closed or times changed, according to a source familiar with the calls. Trump has issued similar warnings on Truth Social today.

The same source said the vibe was "laid back" for most of the day.

What's Haley's goal in Iowa?

Tonight is the race for second place, and Haley's goal is to outperform DeSantis and make the GOP primary a two-person race with Trump.

The Haley campaign is aware that Trump will most likely win Iowa, so the race is all about the battle with DeSantis. Polling that shows Haley surging into second place — however tight — is buoying it.

“Second place is a thunderclap, and third is still the status quo,” said a person directly familiar with the Haley campaign’s thinking.

The final NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll before tonight's caucuses found Haley trailing Trump but narrowly edging DeSantis. Twenty percent of those polled picked Haley as their first choice, while 16% picked DeSantis. Trump led the pack with 48% of respondents supporting him.


Haley is hoping for a strong showing in Iowa ahead of an even stronger performance in New Hampshire, where Republican Gov. Chris Sununu endorsed her and has been out campaigning across the state for her. Sununu joins Andrea Mitchell to discuss his support for Haley and what he expects ahead of the Iowa caucuses and his own state’s primary.

What time do the caucuses start?

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa caucuses tonight will provide the first test of how firm Trump’s front-runner status is and whether any of his challengers can distinguish themselves as viable alternatives for the Republican presidential nomination.

The caucuses, which kick off the 2024 election cycle, open at 7 p.m. CT.

Read the full story here.

What to watch for in the 2024 Iowa caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa — The first votes of the 2024 presidential campaign will land tonight on the frozen tundra of Iowa, where Republicans — along with independents and Democrats who choose to switch parties — will participate in the state’s caucuses.

The final NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll, released Saturday, found that Trump, who is running to return to the office he lost in 2020, is the overwhelming favorite. His chief rivals, Haley and DeSantis, have settled into a battle for second place.

Also competing in Iowa are Ramaswamy, who has worked the state hard but trails the top three in polls and did not qualify for last week’s GOP debate here; former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; and Ryan Binkley, a little-known pastor from Texas. The results will clarify the GOP race before it shifts to next week’s New Hampshire primary. 

Here are five storylines to watch.

DeSantis to visit two caucus sites this evening

DeSantis is scheduled to make appearances tonight at two different caucus sites in Dubuque.

According to a campaign release, DeSantis will deliver remarks at Dubuque Roosevelt Middle School and then make his way to Dubuque Table Mound Elementary, where he is also scheduled to speak.

Notably, Dubuque is a heavily Catholic area. It could be the DeSantis campaign sensed he had an appeal in that community.

Steve Kornacki provides insights into what is expected to happen in Iowa tonight.

Suburban county GOP chair faults Haley’s ‘correct’ Iowa remarks

A Republican chair of a suburban county told NBC News today that while Haley has made some gains there, who will finish in second place is still unclear given the significant support for DeSantis.

The chair noted that Haley’s remarks about New Hampshire correcting Iowa are still frustrating some residents.

“I’m really shocked she said it and didn’t really try to qualify it,” the chair said, adding, “I think some true colors are showing.”

Snow blankets Des Moines

An aerial view reveals a basketball court covered in snow in Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday.

Frozen temperatures in Des Moines, Iowa
Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Many Republicans approve of Trump's rhetoric about immigrants 'poisoning the blood' of the country, according to poll

Trump's made headlines by saying that immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally are "poisoning the blood" of the country. Many likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa approve of his rhetoric.

Forty-two percent of Republicans likely to caucus reported that Trump's "poisoning the blood" rhetoric made them more likely to support him, according to a Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll conducted in December.

On the flip side, 28% of likely Republican caucusgoers said it made them less likely to support Trump, and 29% said it did not matter.

The Biden campaign has likened Trump's comments to Hitler, but the former president has doubled down on his rhetoric.

"Illegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our nation. They’re coming from prisons, from mental institutions — from all over the world," Trump said in a December Truth Social post.

DeSantis and Haley are in a heated battle for second place in the coldest Iowa caucuses on record. Marc Short, Susan Del Percio, and Jen Palmeri join Andrea Mitchell to weigh in on the race for second place and what it will mean for the primary season ahead.

Democrats in Des Moines: Republicans 'are singing the same, terrible song'

DES MOINES, Iowa — Hours before Republicans in Iowa head to their caucus sites to select a Republican presidential nominee, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, both Democrats, highlighted the danger of “MAGA extremism,” in a press briefing hosted by Biden’s re-election campaign. 

“Tonight’s contest is simply a question of whether you like your MAGA-Trump agenda wrapped in the original packaging or with high heels or with lifts in their boots,” Pritzker told reporters, seemingly referring to Trump, Haley and DeSantis.

"Here we stand on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this field of candidates is espousing Adolf Hitler's ideas, denying that the civil rights that the Civil War was about slavery, or demonizing and discounting the rights of large groups of Americans," Pritzker added.

Smith focused her remarks on abortion, telling reporters, “Long before I was a United States senator, I worked at Planned Parenthood. And in that job every single day, I watched women walk through the doors of our clinic ready to make the best decisions for themselves and their families and they did not need Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley or anyone in the examination room with them, telling them what they should do.”

Smith and Pritzker were joined by Jeffrey Katzenberg, a movie mogul and Biden campaign adviser.

We interviewed hundreds of Iowans over 7 months. Here’s what we learned ahead of the caucuses.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican presidential candidates have held hundreds of events, shaken thousands of hands and covered practically every inch of highway across Iowa’s 99 counties.

And NBC News was along for the ride — not only listening to every word the White House hopefuls said, but also talking to hundreds of voters who turned up to listen to and ask questions of the candidates.

Those interviews colored in important details about Iowa and its GOP caucuses that help explain what will happen Monday night. From explaining former President Donald Trump’s enduring appeal on the right to highlighting the different coalitions the GOP candidates are building to spotlighting a new local issue that broke through during the campaign, here’s what we’ve learned from Iowans in this campaign.

Read the full story here.

Dean Phillips would be 'thrilled' if he gets 20 percent of the N.H. vote

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Rep. Dean Phillips told reporters he would be “thrilled” if he ended up with around 20 percent of the vote in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

“We’re just beginning this campaign. We’re only nine weeks in. And I’m just starting. And I’m going to head out around the country after this, and I can’t wait to get going,” he said.

Phillips, of Minnesota, told reporters that Biden should be in the 80 percent range “if he’s a strong candidate.”

Biden is not on the primary ballot in New Hampshire after the state defied the DNC and scheduled their primary ahead of South Carolina's, though some of his supporters are pushing a write-in campaign anyway.

Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 Campaign Manager and CEO of The Messina Group, has a different way of looking at the results in New Hampshire.

“While there are no delegates to be won in New Hampshire, we’re already seeing a prediction game around the results of a primary where Biden is a write-in candidate running against a primary challenger who’s been campaigning in the state,” Messina told NBC News. “To the question of what you might expect, I like to look at data and precedent in politics. I’m keeping in mind Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign for Senator in 2010. She won with 39% of the vote as a candidate in a write-in effort she led — and Joe Biden and his campaign aren’t even participating in an effort to write his name in for this one.”

Each candidates' closing message on the Iowa airwaves

Each of the top three GOP presidential candidates has blanketed the Iowa airwaves ahead of Monday night's caucuses.

Here are the campaign TV ads that aired the most over the last week in Iowa, per the ad tracking firm AdImpact.

The most-aired ad from Trump's campaign did not focus on his rivals for the GOP nomination and instead took aim at Biden. The 30-second spot focused on the economy, with a narrator saying that Trump will "make America’s economy great again."

Haley's most-aired ad is a positive spot casting her as a leader with "grit and grace, a different style, not a name from the past."

Haley and Trump, meanwhile, were both featured in DeSantis' most-aired ad in the final days before the caucuses. The spot features Haley's comments that next week's New Hampshire GOP primary will "correct" Iowa's results, and features footage of DeSantis saying, "Donald Trump is running for his issues. Nikki Haley is running for her donors' issues. I’m running for your issues."

Ramaswamy's campaign had shifted much of its resources off the airwaves, but his campaign was airing a TV ad in northwest Iowa over the last week. The spot features controversial former Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King, who endorsed Ramaswamy earlier this month.

Iowa caucus chair says winter weather 'may be an issue' for youth vote

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kyle Clare, 21, is a caucus chair for Iowa City’s Fifth Precinct. Clare worries that the brutal weather may suppress youth turnout tonight.

“I think with younger people, it may be an issue,” said Clare, a Political Science major at the University of Iowa. He believes on-campus living makes caucusing in sub-zero temperatures a tougher sell.

“I think especially because a lot of us aren’t driving to our locations, a lot of us do have to walk to our caucus locations,” Clare said. As a caucus chair, Clare will be helping to orchestrate a caucus on the campus of the University of Iowa tonight.

Prominent NY lawyer no longer representing Trump in hush money, Carroll appeal

New York attorney Joe Tacopina is no longer representing Trump in his hush money case in Manhattan and has also withdrawn from representing Trump in his appeal of the E. Jean Carroll verdict, Tacopina told NBC News.

Tacopina says he has withdrawn from all matters related to Trump. It was not immediately clear why he chose to withdraw as counsel a day before Trump’s defamation case is set to begin tomorrow morning and he declined to comment further. Tacopina was not expected to represent Trump at that trial.

Tacopina represented Trump in last year's trial brought by Carroll and lost the case, costing Trump $5 million.

The longtime New York attorney has represented a variety of clients including Alex Rodriguez, Sean Hannity and various mafia figures, among them John Gotti. Trump will be represented by Alina Habba and her firm in the defamation case tomorrow and Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles will represent him in the hush money case, which could come to trial as soon as March.

Ramaswamy praises Trump after former president mocks his campaign

In response to Trump saying in a post on Truth Social that a vote for Vivek Ramaswamy is a "wasted vote," Ramaswamy praised the former president in a post on X.

"I’ve defended Trump at every step & respect him immensely," he wrote. "You won’t hear me attacking him. I’m asking for your vote tonight because I believe it’s the right thing for our country. We cannot walk into the other side’s trap & watch the puppet masters quietly trot Nikki into power."

The final poll conducted by NBC News, the Des Moines Register and Mediacom ahead of the Iowa caucuses shows Trump continuing to hold a commanding lead over his competitors. Mark Murray and Charlie Sykes join Andrea Mitchell to look at the numbers and discuss what to expect from the caucuses.

Biden says he's running for re-election because Trump is saying 'outrageous things'

During an interview with Al Sharpton on Monday, Biden was asked why he's running for president again.

“The way, the things that Trump is saying ... Trump is saying things that are just off the wall. He is the most anti-democratic ... with a small 'd,' president in American history. The things he’s saying. And he means them," Biden said.

He said, for example, that Trump has said that he wants to be president again so that he can exact revenge against certain people.

"I mean, it's just outrageous things," Biden said.

Haley responds to Trump's Truth Social post calling her a 'globalist RINO'

Nikki Haley’s campaign is responding to Trump’s Truth Social post where he called her a “globalist RINO” that “doesn’t have MAGA.” They are contrasting those comments with his super PAC allegedly sending out mailers to undecided New Hampshire voters that say “Nikki Haley is a BIG supporter of Trump’s MAGA agenda.”

Her campaign is calling Trump’s claims “fake news” with the statement below:

“Donald Trump knows Nikki Haley is a strong conservative who he praises repeatedly for her toughness at the United Nations,” said Haley national spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas. “Now that Nikki is surging and Trump is dropping, his campaign is flinging phony, contradictory attacks. Don’t believe the fake news from Trump world — they don’t believe it themselves.”

Prominent Republicans make sure to endorse Trump before Iowans caucus

Within the last few days, a number of prominent Republican officials came off the sideline to make sure they got their Trump endorsements in before Iowa voters caucus today.

Since Jan. 5, nine House Republicans, two governors and five senators announced they are backing Trump, according to an NBC News tracker. Among them, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Jim Risch, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso.

The endorsements came after The New York Times reported earlier this month that Trump allies told lawmakers he would be paying close attention to see who has and has not endorsed him ahead of today's caucuses.

The way endorsements have poured in for Trump from Republicans who hold elected office stands in stark contrast to the lack of endorsements from the people who worked for him.

NBC News' Peter Nicholas explored at this phenomenon earlier this year — pointing out that the access and political calculations are different for a former cabinet secretary than for an officeholder looking to face voters themselves. Peter wrote:

"A president’s Cabinet gets a unique window into his priorities, temperament and managerial style. Tasked with running the administration day-to-day, Cabinet members see first-hand the impact of policies he touted on the campaign trail and put forward in office. They sit with him in regular meetings at the White House, listen to him vent and act as surrogates, crisscrossing the country to amplify his message."


Snow-covered roads and temperatures approaching -40 degrees could keep potential Iowa caucusgoers at home.

Iowa Republicans who’ve changed their minds this cycle are searching for a Trump alternative

DES MOINES, Iowa — Most likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers say they have supported the same candidate throughout the entire election cycle, a contributing factor to former President Donald Trump maintaining a massive lead heading into Monday night

But those who have changed their mind are largely shopping for an alternative to the GOP front-runner and could play a significant role in the race for second place.

According to the latest NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, 65% of likely GOP caucusgoers said they have supported their first-choice candidate through the whole campaign, while 27% said they at one time supported a different candidate than the one they plan to support on Monday. 

Read the full story here.

Kamala Harris touts 'fight for freedoms' in MLK Jr. Day remarks

Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute today to Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy while recapping the Biden administration’s work on social justice issues and renewing the Biden campaign’s theme of fighting for freedoms.

In a keynote address at the NAACP’s “King Day at the Dome” at the steps of the South Carolina State House, Harris praised the civil rights giant as a “visionary” who dedicated his life to "advance one our nation’s highest ideals — the ideal of freedom.”

“And I therefore, pose a question that I do believe Dr. King would ask today in 2024: Where exactly is America in our fight for freedom? How are we doing?,” she said. “Well, as vice president of the United States, I’d say at this moment in America, freedom is under profound threat. Today, in fact, we are witnessing a full-on attack on hard-fought, hard-won freedoms.”

Harris listed off a series of what she described as “attacks on freedom,” including laws passed to restrict voting access and reproductive rights, lawmakers’ refusals to pass gun safety laws, laws targeting LGBTQ people and book bans in schools.

In her remarks touching on the “freedom to learn,” Harris appeared to issue a veiled criticism of Haley’s recent comments in which she drew backlash for refusing to say slavery was a cause of the Civil War.

“Every person in our nation has a right to be free to learn and acknowledge our country’s true and full history. And yet today, extremists pass book bans — book bans in this year of our Lord 2024,” she said. “And then they even try to erase, overlook and rewrite the ugly parts of our past, for example, the Civil War, which must I really have to say was about slavery?”

Harris concluded her remarks by connecting various moments throughout the civil rights movement to the present day.

“And like Dr. King, even through the struggles and the setbacks; even during the pain and the heartbreak; even when our feet grow weary, and our legs grow tired, we will march forward for freedom because I do believe, I do believe the true power behind the promise of America is in the faith of her people," she said. "The promise of America I do believe is in the faith of the people, our faith in the founding principles of our nation and our profound commitment to make those principles real.”

She added: “Generation after generation on the fields of Gettysburg, in the schools of Little Rock, on the grounds of this State House; on the streets of Ferguson, and on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives, we the people have always fought to make the promise of freedom real.”

N.H. resident holds house party for birthday and to write in Biden

DOVER, N.H. — New Hampshire state Rep. Luz Bay turned her 60th birthday party into a write-in-Joe-Biden house party.

About 30 of her friends, many of them state representatives and officials, gathered at her home on an icy night just over a week before the primary.

Maryland state Del. Kriselda Valderrama joined on Zoom. While giving her pitch on why to write in Biden, she said, “we remember the election in Alaska a few cycles ago, when Sen. Lisa Murkowski won a general election purely on the strength of her write-in ballot campaign, so it is possible.”

Melanie Levesque, a former state senator and state representative who also joined on Zoom, said after the DNC's efforts to move New Hampshire from its first in the nation status, “many of us felt angst, felt disappointment, a little bit angry.”

"What I realized was that this is bigger than one man. This is about our democracy, not just one election," Levesque said. "And we have to be there to step up and save our democracy for our children or for our future. Writing in Biden is a way of us standing up to say we believe in democracy.”

Colin Van Ostern, a volunteer with the "Write-in Biden" campaign, attended the party in person. “Let’s be honest, one party or another has been trying to take away our primary for about 104 years,” he said. He encouraged everyone to vote for the one person who has beaten Trump and who he is confident can do it again.




Haley ditches audience questions at in-person Iowa events

Haley has changed her in-person campaign style in the run-up to tonight’s Iowa caucuses and is no longer taking questions from audience members.

For months, Haley’s standard events consisted of a stump speech that lasted over 40 minutes and an audience question-and-answer session, usually with about five audience members speaking with a passed-around microphone.

But in the bulk of her events since the first weekend of January, Haley has delivered a truncated version of her stump speech and taken no audience questions as she has traveled across Iowa.

Haley has been remaining at her events past her now-20-minute stump speech, staying to shake hands, take pictures and chat with all of the attendees who wait in line.

Image: Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley greets supporters Monday at Drake Diner in Des Moines.Carolyn Kaster / AP

The campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for the shift, but it comes as Haley has come under increased scrutiny amid her rise in many early state polls. Late last month, Haley spent days cleaning up her omission of slavery in her answer to a question about the cause of the Civil War at a New Hampshire town hall.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis alluded to this as the reason for Haley’s shift during last week’s CNN presidential primary debate.

“I think part of the problem with her candidacy is now that she’s getting scrutiny, she’s got this problem with ballistic podiatry — shooting herself in the foot every other day,” DeSantis said on stage, adding: “Now she doesn’t even take questions from people.”

Last weekend, the subzero temperatures and dangerous weather conditions in Iowa caused Haley to break from this structure several times, as her in-person events were converted to telephone town halls in which she took audience questions while the press listened in.

After tonight’s caucuses, Haley is headed to New Hampshire, where the weather is less likely to dictate the event style.

Trump knocks his GOP challengers for supposedly not being 'MAGA' enough

Trump piled on more attacks against DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy in a post to his Truth Social platform, claiming that they are not “MAGA” enough to win the GOP nomination, referring to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

“Nikki Haley can never win in the General Election because she doesn’t have MAGA, and never will! Ron DeSanctimonious, at least, is MAGA-Lite,” he wrote, referring to DeSantis. “Remember, I think MAGA is almost ALL of the Republican Party.”

Trump said that so-called “RINOS,” an acronym that stands for Republicans in name only, are over and called Haley a “globalist RINO.”

“It’s not going to happen for her, or DeSanctimonious!” he wrote. “Vivek Votes are wasted, should come to ‘TRUMP.’ MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”

With former President Trump holding a commanding lead in the latest poll before Monday’s GOP caucuses, Haley and DeSantis are battling it out for second place. NBC’s Kristen Welker weighs in and Steve Kornacki breaks down the numbers on the "TODAY" show.

Views of MAGA movement correspond to Iowa caucusgoers' support, poll finds

Views of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement — or MAGA — reveal a lot about likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers’ candidate preferences ahead of Monday’s GOP caucuses.

Overall, the new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll finds a combined 40% of likely caucusgoers identifying themselves as either “Ultra MAGA” (18%) or “Regular MAGA” (22%) when asked how they view the phrase. Another 38% say they’re neutral to the MAGA movement, and 17% are anti-MAGA.

And when breaking down these results by candidate support, the poll captures the different lanes ahead of Monday’s Republican presidential contest.

Read the full story here.

Caucusgoer says Haley motivates her to turn out first time in 10 years

Sheryl Zimda is a lifelong Republican but is caucusing for her second time ever — and the first time in more than 10 years — because she says she is passionate about making her voice heard for a non-Trump candidate: Nikki Haley. 

“Trump doing the name calling, it’s just hurtful,” Zimda told NBC News. “I don’t want to see my Republican Party be the party that that’s what we do. I think we can be better than that.”

Zimda said she thinks Trump did “good things” as president but wants the party to move forward no backward, which she said is what will happen if he is the nominee again.

Haley “seems presidential” and appeals to her because she’s “very pro-family” and “letting the states decide certain issues," she said. "I appreciate that.”

Zimda will be caucusing tonight at Central Dewitt High School in Clinton County, which is home to lower-income, blue-collar workers. Trump flipped the county in the 2016 general election after it had solidly voted for Obama twice.

Haley brushes off Rubio's endorsement of Trump

Nikki Haley brushed off Marco Rubio endorsing Trump yesterday in a pull-aside with CNN’s Dana Bash, saying she cares more about the “voters’ endorsements” than those of elected officials. As governor of South Carolina in 2016, Haley stood on stage alongside Rubio and endorsed him in his 2016 run for president. 

Haley also said that Trump's claim that she is not tough enough to be president is “comical” because when she worked at the United Nations, he used to tell people, “Don’t mess with her. She’s tough.”

 

Haley enjoys a massive spending advantage on campaign ads

In the week leading up to Monday's Iowa caucuses, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley enjoyed a large spending advantage nationally on campaign ads.

The money spent on pro-Haley ads by her campaign and two super PACs backing her — SFA Fund Inc. and Americans for Prosperity Action — totaled more than $7.6 million from Jan. 8 to Jan. 14, the day before the caucuses, according to AdImpact.

The amount of money spent on ads backing Trump trails the amount spent on pro-Haley ads, with a combined $4.7 million spent in the last week by Trump's campaign and MAGA Inc., a super PAC backing him, nationally.

And ads for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were funded by just $3.1 million combined from DeSantis' campaign and two super PACs backing him — Good Fight and Fight Right.

Biden and Democratic Party groups raised $97 million in final quarter of 2023

President Joe Biden’s campaign and affiliated fundraising committees powering the Democratic National Committee and state parties raised $97 million in the final three months of 2023, the campaign announced Monday, citing a significant closing boost from small-dollar donors.

Biden’s campaign also announced that his political machine had $117 million available to spend as 2024 begins, sending a signal about what the eventual Republican nominee will face just as the GOP begins its nominating process Monday with the Iowa caucuses. 

The haul builds on the $72 million and the $71 million that Biden for President, the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees feeding state Democratic Party organizations raised in the second and third fundraising periods, respectively. Exactly how much the respective fundraising entities raised won’t be known until the campaign files its year-end reports with the Federal Election Committee, which are due on Jan. 31.

“This historic haul — proudly powered by strong and growing grassroots enthusiasm — sends a clear message: the Team Biden-Harris coalition knows the stakes of this election and is ready to win this November,” campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement. “Our democracy and hard-fought basic rights and freedoms are on the line in 2024, and these numbers prove that the American people know the stakes and are taking action early to help defeat the extreme MAGA Republican agenda again.”

Read the full story here.

Ohio's lieutenant governor — a Ramaswamy friend — endorses Trump

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted endorsed Trump for president in a post on X hours before the Iowa caucuses — the first Republican nominating contest — opens.

An endorsement from a lieutenant governor in a state with a primary two months away wouldn't merit much notice. But Husted plans to run for governor in 2026 and could face a crowded Republican primary.

And he is close friends with Ramaswamy, whose campaign he has praised. He told NBC News last year that he had encouraged the Ohio-based businessman to bypass a Senate race and run for president instead.

But Trump and his team have in the closing days of Iowa fumed over Ramaswamy's campaign, which could cut into the former president's margin of victory in the caucuses.

In one final note of intrigue, many Ohio GOP observers believe Ramaswamy's next logical step in politics could be that 2026 primary for governor — against his friend Husted.


Dean Phillips tells N.H. voters Biden 'wrote you off. Why write him in' in mailer

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who is running against Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, is out with a new mailer that reads, “Joe wrote you off. Why write him in?”

Phillips also posted a reel on Instagram of someone pasting up a poster that says “missing” in all caps over a photo of the back of Biden and “NotInNewHampshire.com” underneath.

Luz Bay, 60, who hosted a house party themed on writing in Biden's name, said she doesn't think Biden “writes us off” when asked about the ad, calling it “politics.”

Al Howland, meanwhile, said he isn't happy that Biden’s name won't be appearing on the ballot in New Hampshire.

“I think that as a New Hampshire resident, disregarding essentially our primary because it’s written in state law was not a good look,” the 61-year-old said.

But, he said, he's writing in Biden because he doesn't want Trump in office.

“I think [Trump is] really bad for the country. I think what Biden has done is kind of underrated,” he said.

Phillips often says he believes Trump would beat Biden if the election were held today — one of the main reasons Phillips says he is running.

Howland said Phillips and fellow Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson “don’t have the legislative experience to really get things done.”

Water King, 73, is choosing to write in Biden because of his “record of accomplishments.”

King agrees with Howland that it was “extremely disappointing that [Biden] wasn’t on the ballot.”

“I have nothing against Dean Phillips," King said to NBC News. "He is probably a very, very fine rep in the U.S. House. But he doesn’t have a record of accomplishment that President Biden has.”

Kari Lake launches first Senate ad timed to Iowa caucuses and vows to work with Trump

Kari Lake’s campaign will air its first spot on cable and broadcast in Arizona and broadcast ahead of tonight’s Iowa caucuses and during the New Hampshire primary, promising to help Trump enact his agenda in office. 

A top Trump surrogate, Lake has been in Iowa campaigning for the former president, and he has endorsed her in her race for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. Surveys show Trump is performing well in the state in a hypothetical race against Biden. 

“With President Trump, we had a secure border, but Joe Biden and his enablers Kyrsten Sinema and Ruben Gallego destroyed that security,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “When we take back the U.S. Senate, we can fix it.”

Lake’s advisors believe that Trump’s strong poll numbers are a good sign for their candidate, whose politics and style are similar to the former president. 

A recent poll conducted by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Lake leading Democrat Reuben Gallego, currently a House member, by one point in a two-way race. Lake recently announced having raised over $2.2 million in her first fundraising quarter, placing her second of all Republican Senate challenges. 

Lake’s first ad focuses on the southern border, crime, and homelessness, which polls show are top issues for Arizona voters in 2024. In it, she ties Gallego and Sen. Kristen Sinema to Biden’s agenda and record as the president faces skepticism from voters over this handling of immigration. Gallego and Sinema, who left the Democratic Party to become an independent, voted with the president 100 percent and 94 percent of the time, according to a FiveThirtyEight tally.

“When Republicans take back the U.S. Senate, we will fix the problems caused by Joe Biden and his enablers Kyrsten Sinema and Ruben Gallego,” Lake said in a statement to NBC News. “I will work with President Trump to make Arizona, and America, Safe, Affordable and Great Again.” 

Gallego's campaign responded to the criticism, saying: “While Kari Lake tries to use the border crisis for political gain instead of offering real solutions, Ruben Gallego has delivered more than $93 billion in border security funding to keep Arizonans safe and hire thousands of border patrol agents. While there is more work to be done, she has rhetoric, he has a record — they are not the same.”

Iowa is kicking off the very first contest of the 2024 race with Trump far ahead of the pack with an unprecedented double-digit lead. Haley and DeSantis are locked in a battle for second. NBC’s Hallie Jackson reports for "Today." 

Haley tells locals 'we're going to make it happen'

Haley spoke briefly at a local diner in Des Moines this morning, greeting voters and delivering a final message ahead of tonight’s caucuses. 

She stated as her closing argument after 11 months of actively campaigning, “Today’s the day we make history because we tune out the noise of the media, we tune out the noise of the politicians, and we raise the voices of Americans that say we want a better day, we’re going to make it happen.”

Ramaswamy makes emotional pitch to Iowans on caucus day

Ramaswamy kicked off his caucus day at the Machine Shed restaurant in Urbandale, speaking to an overflowing room of more than 200 people. He delivered his stump speech and then took questions. 

He ditched his casual brown jacket and navy pants, a look that he has been wearing almost every day since November, for a navy suit and button-down shirt. He told the room of Iowans why their vote matters tonight. He addressed the cold, but told attendees it would just take 30 minutes to revive the country, adding, “If I win Iowa, I’m your next president.”

Haley calls Trump and Biden 'the two most disliked politicians in America' in new ad

A new TV ad that Haley’s campaign is launching in New Hampshire takes a more aggressive approach to Trump, featuring footage of the former president holding a Bible at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., in 2020 after police cleared protesters from Lafayette Square.

“The two most disliked politicians in America? Trump and Biden. Both are consumed by chaos, negativity and grievances of the past,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “The better choice for a better America: Nikki Haley.” 

Haley goes on to say, “I have a different style and approach. I’ll fix our economy, close our border and strengthen the cause of freedom. We need a new generation of conservative leadership to get it done.”

 

Brutally cold temperatures are gripping Iowa, where the official kickoff to the presidential election is hours away. NBC News’ Garrett Haake, Ali Vitali and Dasha Burns have the latest in the countdown to the Iowa caucuses.


Trump talked up Cabinet position for Doug Burgum, former aide to N.D. governor says

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A former Doug Burgum staffer spoke to NBC News about the North Dakota governor’s decision to endorse Trump.

“He endorsed Trump in '16 and '20. They’ve always had a positive relationship,” the staffer said. “Clearly Trump wanted this endorsement. Trump went on local North Dakota radio the day of or the day after he dropped out and talked him up potentially for a Cabinet position.”

Trump rails against his challengers hours ahead of the Iowa caucuses

Trump, who remains the front-runner heading into the Iowa caucuses tonight, lobbed attacks at each of his GOP primary challengers, as well as President Joe Biden in a series of posts on his Truth Social platform this morning.

In the posts, Trump repeatedly mocks DeSantis and Haley by calling them “DeSanctimonious” and “birdbrain,” respectively. He slammed Ramaswamy, saying that although he "likes" him, a vote for him is a “wasted vote” and that he "played it too ‘cute’ with us."

The former president also took aim at New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu for his endorsement of Haley. Trump claimed that while he is ahead of Biden in the polls, Haley and DeSantis are not, adding that they're also losing to him.

During the last presidential debate with DeSantis, Haley touted her potential margin of victory in a hypothetical general election matchup against Biden. A Wall Street Journal poll in December had Haley beating Biden by 17 points in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, while a CBS News poll released this week also showed her leading Trump and DeSantis in their margins of victory over Biden in potential matchups.

Haley asks Trump, 'You sure about 60?' in new ad

Haley’s campaign is out with a digital spot this morning casting doubt on Trump’s claim that he has a 60-point lead ahead of tonight’s Iowa caucuses.

Shared first with NBC News, the video begins with a question asking, ‘How much does Trump think he is going to win Iowa by?’ followed by a compilation of Trump declaring his lead is as much as 60 points in Iowa polling. The video ends with a question to Trump asking, “You sure about 60?”

The video ad rollout comes after NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom released its final Iowa poll this weekend, which showed Trump with an almost 30-point lead.

Trump has first-choice support from 48% of likely Republican caucusgoers, while Haley has 20%, DeSantis 16%, and Ramaswamy 8%, according to the poll.

Haley has continued to criticize Trump on the campaign trail, telling Iowans that “rightly or wrongly, chaos follows” Trump and that he “was really good at breaking things, he just wasn’t good at fixing them.”

How the Iowa caucuses work

This evening, Iowa Republicans will head to schools and community centers to participate in their first-in-the-nation caucuses — the initial step in the GOP’s monthslong presidential nominating process.

The events will take place across 1,657 precincts in the state’s 99 counties.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the caucuses work and how Iowans will cast their ballots for their preferred GOP presidential candidates.

Read the full story here.