President Trump easily defeated his primary rivals in Monday’s Iowa Republican caucuses, in the first indication that those attempting to take on the president inside his own party stand a slim chance of making headway against the incumbent.
Iowa results showed the president winning with roughly 97 percent of the vote over former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. The primary challengers walked away with about 1 percent each.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel congratulated the president, vowing he’ll carry the state in November.
While the focus has been on the Democratic contest Monday, Iowa Republicans also caucused at precincts throughout the state.
“The president has record support among Republican voters,” Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka told Fox News on Monday. “I am not concerned with those embarked on a vanity project.”
When asked how long he would stay in the Republican primary race after his defeat Monday night, Walsh campaign spokesman Charles Siler told Fox News on Monday that the former congressman “is keeping every option open.”
“He sees President Trump as the greatest threat to our republic, the exact thing our Founders feared in a leader,” Siler said, noting that the campaign has spent the last three weeks in Iowa and Walsh has visited the state nearly every week since he announced his candidacy in August.
“We’re leaving straight from Iowa to go to New Hampshire,” Siler said, noting that Walsh has been campaigning in New Hampshire “regularly” since he announced his run.
“We know this is a long-shot effort, but it’s an important one for the nation,” Siler said. “That’s why it’s so distressing that the GOP has canceled so many primary elections and blocked challengers in many other states.”
The Weld campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
During the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Trump came in second place — trailing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by nearly 4 percentage points.
While Weld and Walsh are not expected to pose a tough challenge for the president this primary season, the Trump campaign and more than 80 Trump surrogates were sprinkled across Iowa, speaking at Republican caucus locations. They were geared toward planting a flag in Iowa for the general election as much as ensuring a strong showing in the caucuses.
“We are training activists as staff in every corner of the state. We have held over 230 Trump Victory Leadership Initiative Trainings with over 1,700 attendees,” Gorka told Fox News. “The Iowans form the backbone of our program and are the keys to our success in November.”
“After the results tonight, the Democrat machine/attention leaves Iowa and will not be back until there is a nominee,” Gorka continued. “Meanwhile, Republicans will continue to work to keep Iowa in the president’s column in November.”
Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale was joined in recent days in Iowa by a slew of Trump officials, like White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and five other members of Trump’s Cabinet.
Others out making the case for the president’s reelection were House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Lynne Cheney, R-Wyo.; Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; former Texas governor and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry; Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr.; and Mike Lindell, the inventor of “My Pillow.”
Iowa is considered a swing state in the general election. It was narrowly carried by the Democrats in the 2000 election and narrowly by Republicans in 2004. Then-Sen. Barack Obama captured the state by 6 points in 2012. And Trump won Iowa in 2016 by nearly 10 points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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