To Win Iowa, Trump Turns to Allies Like Marjorie Taylor Greene

Less than a week before Iowans decide whether to slingshot Donald J. Trump toward another presidential nomination, his schedule looks like this: Go to Washington for an appeals court hearing on Tuesday. Pop into Iowa for a Fox News town-hall event on Wednesday — and then make an expected return to court on Thursday, this time in New York.

He is not scheduled to hold another rally in Iowa until Saturday, two days before the caucuses.

As Mr. Trump flits between the presidential trail and the courtroom, his campaign has deployed a web of high-profile conservative allies to help fill the gaps and make his case across the state, a strategy that the former president may be more likely to turn to this year as his legal issues keep him occupied.

Over the last months, Mr. Trump’s campaign has set up smaller rallies with Republican luminaries who, among the president’s right-wing base, have achieved a kind of political celebrity.

To start its efforts in January, the campaign last week held events with Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Eric Trump, one of Mr. Trump’s sons. This week, Ben Carson, Mr. Trump’s former secretary of housing and urban development, is scheduled for two appearances in eastern Iowa.

Before a winter storm hit Iowa and disrupted travel, the campaign had also planned to hold events on Monday and Tuesday with Roseanne Barr, the actress and outspoken Trump supporter; Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas, Mr. Trump’s former press secretary; and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

Mr. Trump’s use of campaign surrogates is a notable example of an old campaign tactic. Political candidates have long leaned on prominent allies to help them, given the logistical challenges of making pitches to voters in early-voting states that hold closely scheduled contests.

“It’s a way to draw interest from caucusgoers and give them the opportunity to hear from other people,” said Jimmy Centers, a Republican strategist in Iowa who is unaligned in the race. “And it can be a draw in some cases to maybe get people out.”

On Monday, while Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Florida attending to his day job, his wife, Casey, and Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a hard-right lawmaker, were traveling through southeastern Iowa at events held by Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting the DeSantis campaign.

Other candidates were bringing well-known figures who have endorsed them to stump at their events. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, appeared over the weekend with Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire. The biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is expected to campaign later in the week with the right-wing commentator Candace Owens and the YouTube star and boxer Jake Paul.

But as a former president who enjoys broad support, Mr. Trump is able to draw on a far deeper roster of conservative stars. Mr. Centers said Mr. Trump’s slate of surrogates tended to be people who were “more top of mind” for likely Republican caucusgoers.

Many of Mr. Trump’s surrogates are eager to align themselves with his supporters or to display their loyalty to Mr. Trump. In some cases, they may be positioning themselves for potential positions in a future Trump cabinet. (Ms. Noem has said she would consider being Mr. Trump’s running mate.)

And surrogates like Ms. Noem, Ms. Greene and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who held an event in Cedar Rapids last month, are themselves big draws for audiences.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, whose state borders Iowa, has also been promoting Mr. Trump’s candidacy before the caucuses.Credit…Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times

Brian Duckett, 59, who attended Mr. Gaetz’s event, said he had been moved by the push from the campaign and the Florida congressman for Mr. Trump’s supporters to play a more active role in the caucuses.

“I’ve never done that before, and I want to do it this time,” Mr. Duckett said.

Last Wednesday, Ms. Noem drew hundreds of people to a 30-minute speech in Sioux City, just across the border from her home state. The same day, Mr. DeSantis himself held events nearby that were attended by just dozens.

Mr. Trump’s surrogates are often able to help him appeal to specific segments of voters, speaking more directly to their concerns in a different way from Mr. Trump. The campaign hopes that this can help drive turnout and deliver Mr. Trump a decisive victory in the caucuses.

Ms. Noem drew on being a wife, mother and grandmother as she shared personal stories to encourage the audience to caucus for Mr. Trump. And she mentioned her state’s proximity to Iowa to portray herself as someone who understood residents’ concerns about the prices of groceries and gasoline.

“It’s dramatic for a state like Iowa,” Ms. Noem said of gas prices. “It’s dramatic for a state like my state of South Dakota, where it’s a long ways to drive anywhere.”

Ms. Greene, an ultraconservative congresswoman who rose to power as a firebrand in Mr. Trump’s mold, was well positioned to address their party’s far-right flank.

Speaking in Keokuk, a city at Iowa’s southeastern tip, Ms. Greene on Thursday proudly called herself a “MAGA extremist,” then railed against establishment Republicans, saying she had been “pretty let down” by them during Mr. Trump’s first term.

“We were, too,” a man called out in response.

“A common thing,” she agreed.

The same day, Eric Trump worked a crowd of more than 150 people in Ankeny, in suburban Des Moines. He rattled off his father’s accomplishments. Then he, too, drew on his own particular advantages.

“Should we call Donald Trump and see if he picks up the phone?” the younger Mr. Trump asked the audience. Moments later, the former president’s voice filled the room as his son held his phone up to the microphone.

“I just want to say, I look forward to seeing you on Friday, we love you all, and I hope my son is doing a great job,” the elder Mr. Trump said.

Max Anderson, 23, said at the Ankeny event that Mr. Trump’s steady stream of surrogates gave the former president’s pitch more credibility. He added that he thought the phone call reflected well on Mr. Trump’s character.

“It shows that he takes care and loves his people — especially his kids,” Mr. Anderson said.

Leah McBride Mensching contributed reporting from Sioux City, Sioux Center and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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