It was a sea of red in Iowa on Friday, where Republican presidential hopefuls spoke at the Lincoln dinner.
The event served as the first major opportunity for candidates to tell voters why they should be the next president of the United States.
Former President Donald Trump got the biggest reception of any presidential candidate at the annual Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines.
The 13 Republican candidates who spoke during the event stayed on time, as they were each given just 10 minutes to speak. In his speech, the former president accused President Joe Biden of political interference.
"They want to weaponize the IRS just like they've weaponized the Justice Department and the FBI. And by the way, if I weren't running, I would have nobody coming after me, or if I was losing by a lot, I would have nobody coming after me," Trump told the crowd.
Despite the looming possibility of a third criminal indictment, President Trump's popularity remains remarkably strong in the polls for the 2024 Iowa Republican caucus.
According to a Fox Business July 15–19 poll, 46% of Iowa Republican caucus goers said they'd caucus for Trump, with 16% saying that they caucus for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and 11% for Senator Tim Scott, who has spent a lot of time in Iowa.
Despite his massive lead in the polls, almost every single Republican candidate for president refused to talk about the former president in their 10-minute speeches at the event.
The only presidential candidate to bring up the charges against Trump was Will Hurd.
"Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 and 2020. Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison. And if we elect, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know. Listen, I know the truth. The truth is hard," Hurd told the crowd.
Though Hurd faced a strong negative reaction from the crowd, the former congressman has put a footnote in the polls.
Meanwhile, DeSantis, who himself had a rough week, laying off reportedly 38 of his campaign staffers—a third of his campaign—did not directly address Trump during his remarks to the Iowa Republican Party.
"We're not getting a mulligan on 2024," DeSantis said. "We either win this election and make good on all the promises that we're making, or the Democrats are going to throw this country into a hole that's going to take us a generation to come out of. I believe that decline is a choice. I believe success is attainable, and I know that freedom is worth fighting for. This is our chance in 2024 to send the Biden-Harris administration to the dustbin of history, where it belongs."
The 2024 Iowa Republican caucuses are the first in the nation's Republican presidential nominating contest. They're less than six months away, on Jan. 15, 2024.
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