ANKENY, Iowa (AP) – Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis said Saturday he would consider running for Iowa governor. Kim Reynolds as a possible candidate for the candidacy should he win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, dismissing former President Donald Trump’s recent complaints about her as “completely out of control.”
“Of course,” DeSantis said when asked if he would consider a second Republican term. “I mean, she’s one of the best officers in America.”
Trump last week slammed Reynolds, who is extremely popular with the state’s GOP grassroots, for her seemingly cozy relationship with DeSantis while reaffirming her public neutrality as the leading Republican figure in the state, which has the first presidential election in less than six months .
Reynolds has appeared with other Republican candidates for the White House, but has moderated discussions with DeSantis and his wife, Casey DeSantis, and also attended Trump’s first campaign rally in Iowa last March.
DeSantis noted that he and Reynolds gossiped about their similar accomplishments and the playful rivalry between the two states, which have seen conservative politics evolving rapidly that year.
Notably, Reynolds was greeted with a sustained standing ovation when she appeared at a forum for presidential candidates Friday, attended by DeSantis and five others, and signed a strict anti-abortion ban before an audience of about 2,000 Christian conservatives.
“Any Republican trying to smear her is dead wrong,” DeSantis told reporters after leading a fundraiser for US Rep. Zach Nunn in the Des Moines suburb.
Speaking on Trump’s social media platform Truth Social, the former president acknowledged the assumption of the governorship by Reynolds, who took office after Republican governor Terry Branstad became US ambassador to China during the Trump administration.
“Now she wants to stay ‘NEUTRAL,'” Trump wrote, adding he would not invite her to his campaign events.
Trump is scheduled to be in Iowa on Tuesday to attend a town hall-style event with Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity.
Reynolds, who was self-elected in 2018 and easily re-elected last year, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the 2024 nomination, though GOP insiders from Iowa have suggested the former senator and rural county treasurer is ambivalent about the role.
DeSantis, who campaigned in Iowa on Friday and Saturday, said voters approached him to express their dismay at Trump’s criticism of Reynolds.
It struck a chord with Ryan Frederick, a western Iowa County GOP chairman, who attended a gathering of about 50 Republican activists at a pizza restaurant in Winterset on Saturday morning.
Frederick, who tends to be supportive of DeSantis, said, “At least I don’t have to worry about him crushing Kim Reynolds.”
“If you’re a supporter of the party, that’s a big deal,” Frederick added.
Later Saturday in Tennessee, DeSantis faced a muted audience as he touted his achievements as governor and vowed to give the United States a “fresh start” if he is elected president. Top Republican leaders like Gov. Bill Lee and U.S. Senators Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn were conspicuously absent during the state’s Republican Party annual fundraiser — although all three appeared in videos for the event — as DeSantis, of Tennessee’s GOP leaders only moderate applause, most of whom have already pledged their allegiance to Trump.
Still, DeSantis received a partial standing ovation as he praised his administration’s decision to ban sexual orientation and gender identity education at all grade levels and make it easier for parents to challenge books in school libraries.
“We have to draw a line when it comes to our children,” he said.
DeSantis also referenced his ongoing feud with Disney, which opposed the governor’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.
“If you side with the corporations through your constituency, you’re not going to win elections,” he said.
Associated Press writer Kimberlee Kruesi of Nashville, Tennessee contributed to this report.