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Politics Meets Football in Iowa

On Saturday, politics and football collided in Ames, IA. The nominal reason for going there was a college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones. But that was overshadowed by the presence of both Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) at the game. It was similar to the Iowa State Fair encounter 3 weeks ago, yet different.

For starters, Trump sat in a glass enclosed VIP box in the stadium, allowing the man-of-the-people to avoid the people. In contrast, DeSantis, who doesn't like people, sat in the regular stands next to Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA). He did pose for selfies when asked (especially when a major media outlet was there to observe it), so he's learning. He's also courting Reynolds and has visited her many times already this year. When asked whom he was rooting for, he declined to answer, knowing that Reynolds is a graduate of Iowa State but that plenty of Hawkeyes fans were there, too. Oh, and they vote.

The also-runs in the campaign, Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson, stayed in the parking lot and attended the tailgate party there. Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) also showed up—on a scooter, as a consequence of his foolishly playing basketball the day before the Republican debate and tearing his Achilles tendon. That is an omen. His campaign is totally pointless, so he might as well scoot.

When Trump entered the Jack Trice Stadium, he got both cheers and boos. A plane dragging a banner reading "Where's Melania?" flew overhead. Indeed, Melania wasn't there. In fact, she hasn't been on the campaign trail at all this year. Two people wearing inflatable costumes satirizing Trump and Anthony Fauci wandered around so people could take selfies with them.

Although Trump won Iowa by 8 points in 2020, Ames, the home of Iowa State, and Iowa City, the home of the University of Iowa, are both solidly blue cities.

The attacks started before the game. DeSantis' super PAC ran a digital ad that was intended to pop up on phones during the game. It criticized Trump for supporting the idea of transgender women competing in the Miss America Pageant. Trump didn't directly criticize DeSantis, but he did do some retail politicking, which DeSantis hates. On his way to the stadium Trump stopped at the Alpha Gamma Rho frat house and passed out autographed footballs with his name printed on them. He also flipped hamburgers at the grill there. See, he's a regular frat rat, one of the boys.

Not that any of the assembled politicians cared, but Iowa beat Iowa State 20-13. Well, Reynolds probably cared, but none of the others. (V)

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