Gov. Ron DeSantis hit the campaign trail Tuesday in Iowa with his newest and most powerful ally in the state: Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Ms. Reynolds, who endorsed Mr. DeSantis on Monday, worked the room at a campaign stop in Davenport and took photos with voters before taking the stage to shower praise on her pick for the GOP presidential race.
“We need a president who is focused on the future and not the past, and we need a president who puts Americans and America first,” Ms. Reynolds said in a thinly veiled jab against former President Donald Trump.
Ms. Reynolds is immensely popular in Iowa, and her decision to toss her support behind Mr. DeSantis and actively campaign for him will serve as the biggest test in the state of whether endorsements matter in the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses.
Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Reynolds have scored major wins for the conservative movement and led their state parties to major success at the ballot box, even as Republicans faltered elsewhere.
Mr. DeSantis is hoping Ms. Reynolds will help him consolidate the anybody-but-Trump voters in the state and power him to a stronger than anticipated showing that could cement his status as the true Trump alternative in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination.
On Tuesday, Mr. DeSantis took a few swipes at the frontrunner, noting that before the ex-president’s political rise, Mr. Trump donated to Democrats, including Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom.
Mr. DeSantis also said it is clear that Mr. Trump, if elected, will not go after the “medical swamp” in Washington that fumbled the response to COVID that ruined lives.
Mr. DeSantis said Mr. Trump still says he “did everything right” — including elevating Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, and giving him an award for his actions instead of firing him.
“He doesn’t have any interest in dealing and holding people accountable because he thinks it would reflect poorly on him,” Mr. DeSantis said. “I will do it.”
Mr. Trump has spent months ridiculing and attacking Mr. DeSantis, labeling him a stiff, bestowing him with the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious,” and mocking his poll numbers.
Mr. Trump has also attacked Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Reynolds for not falling in line behind his campaign while taking credit for the electoral success they have had in their home states.
“Why would anybody endorse Ron DeSanctimonious, who is like a wounded bird falling from the sky?” Mr. Trump said on his social media platform Truth Social.
In a joint NBC interview with Ms. Reynolds on Monday, Mr. DeSantis said Mr. Trump puts loyalty to his whims and desires over everything else.
“With Donald Trump, if you don’t kiss the ring, you could be the best governor ever, and he’ll trash you,” Mr. DeSantis said. “You could be a terrible corrupt politician, but if you kiss his ring, he’ll praise you.”