It was his first political rally in Iowa as a former president, but Donald Trump spent much of this weekend's visit spreading a dangerous message: Sowing doubt unjustifiably, once again, about last year's presidential election. Some of the state's most prominent Republicans were in attendance. Yamiche Alcindor reports.
Read the Full Transcript
It was his first political rally in Iowa as a former president, but Donald Trump spent much of this weekend's visit spreading a false message, sowing doubt unjustifiably once again about last year's presidential election.
And, as Yamiche Alcindor reports, some of the state's most prominent Republicans were by his side.
Donald Trump in Iowa, it's a familiar sight from past campaigns, but, this time, he coupled grievances against Democrats with yet more lies about the 2020 election that he lost.
Donald Trump, Former President of the United States: They rigged the election, and now, based on the rigged election, they're destroying our country. This is about the American people having their country taken away from them. That's what it's really about.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Present for these latest claims were some of Iowa's highest-profile GOP elected officials.
There was Governor Kim Reynolds.
Senator Chuck Grassley has my complete and total endorsement for reelection.
And Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. Last month, he announced that he's seeking an eighth term in office.
Earlier this year, when the Senate put former President Trump on trial for inciting the January 6 Capitol attack, Grassley voted to acquit him. But in a February statement about the riot, Grassley sharply criticized the former president.
At the time, Grassley wrote of President Trump — quote — "The reality is, he lost. He encouraged his own loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count. President Trump's language was extreme, aggressive, and irresponsible."
This weekend, though, at the Des Moines rally, Grassley enthusiastically accepted Trump's support for reelection.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA):
If I didn't accept the endorsement of a person that's got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart. I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement.
President Trump still enjoys robust support from rank-and-file Republicans nationally as well.
A survey last month from the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents still want the former president to remain a major figure in our politics. And just under half want him to run for president again.
In recent months, he has tried to exert his influence over policy debates, last week even chastising Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for agreeing with Democrats to delay a clash over the federal debt ceiling.
But on the topic of the 2020 election, the number-two House Republican, Steve Scalise, repeatedly sidestepped a question this weekend about the legitimacy of the vote.
Chris Wallace, Host, "FOX News Sunday": I understand you think there were irregularities and things that need to be fixed. Do you think the election was stolen?
Rep. Steve Scalese (R-LA):
And it's not just irregularities. It's states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they're supposed to follow.
That drew a quick response from Congresswoman Liz Cheney, one of the few vocal critics in the GOP of the former president's false election claims.
She said of Scalise's TV appearance — quote — "Perpetuating the big lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic."
The former president is openly supporting a primary challenger who is trying to unseat Cheney in next year's midterms.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.