In a remarkable display of fervor and excitement, a diverse group of ardent Cyclone and Hawkeye fans gathered on the rooftop of Jack Trice Stadium last week in Ames, Iowa. Their common purpose? To welcome none other than former President Donald Trump, who made an unexpected appearance at the annual faceoff between the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, a rivalry that ranks among the fiercest in collegiate sports. This event unfolded against a backdrop of allegations that Trump played a significant role in a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Despite the political controversies surrounding him, Trump’s presence in Iowa electrified the crowd, underscoring his enduring appeal within certain segments of the population.
A Spirited Welcome: The Trump Chants
As Trump approached the stadium, the atmosphere was electrified with enthusiastic cheers of “Trump!”! Trump! Trump!” that echoed the excitement of his loyal supporters. These fervent fans eagerly anticipated his emergence from a private suite, where he had been observing a time-honored interstate rivalry pitting the University of Iowa against Iowa State University. Politics momentarily took a back seat as all eyes turned to Trump. When he made his entrance, the stadium echoed with cheers.
Trump, currently leading the Republican primaries for the 2024 Iowa Caucus, warmly embraced the passionate crowd. Before addressing his supporters, he donned a red cap, reminiscent of his iconic campaign headgear, and waved to the cheering fans, who enthusiastically raised their cell phones to capture the moment.
Brad Lewis, a Dubuque resident and avid hockey enthusiast, watched the spectacle from a distance and summed up the sentiment of many in attendance: “It’s fantastic that he came to this game. I’m a businessman, and when he was president, a lot of positive and good things were happening. Whether people love him or hate him, you know that he’s done a lot of good for the country.”
While Trump did encounter some vocal opposition within the crowd, he succeeded in energizing and engaging his devoted supporters, who appeared less concerned about the legal challenges looming over him.
Political Foes and Allies Unite
Around the open-air stadium seating, political figures like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem watched the game alongside Marine veteran Marjorie Miller-Meeks, a U.S. Representative from Iowa’s 2nd congressional district.
Although DeSantis and Trump are both prominent Republicans and potential contenders in the 2024 presidential race, insiders noted that they did not engage in substantive conversations during the event. Meanwhile, Miller-Meeks, who had initially refrained from endorsing any candidate before the January 15th Iowa Caucus, has recently left the door open to the possibility, prompting further scrutiny of her campaign’s messaging and drawing attention to her campaign events.
According to an August poll conducted by the Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Trump is the preferred choice of 42% of potential Republican Caucus-goers. DeSantis trails at 19%, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 9%.
Trump’s On-Field Game
Before the game, Trump made a grand entrance by tossing the football on the field, joining hands with football legends like Woody Rasmussen, Doug Bergum, and Asa Hutchinson.
Biotech entrepreneur Woody Rasmussen, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, in addition to Trump and DeSantis, took part in game day rallies and tailgates.
DeSantis, a former college baseball player, rallied supporters outside the stadium in a tailgate event titled “We Want Ron!” and “Make America Florida.”
Amidst cheers and football chants, Trump participated in a pre-game ceremony, interacting with students who were part of Cyclone Alley, an organization uniting passionate fans who support the Iowa State football team.
Trump’s active involvement in the festivities included flipping a coin for the pre-game toss. Fans watched in awe as he controlled a spatula to flip a burger, underscoring his connection with a crowd that was thrilled to see him in their midst.
As he moved through the crowd, Trump signed autographs and posed for selfies, creating lasting memories for his supporters.
A Cherished Tradition: The Iowa State Game
The annual clash between the football teams of Iowa State University (Cyclones) and the University of Iowa (Hawkeyes) holds a special place in the hearts of both programs. It has also become a cherished tradition to attract presidential hopefuls seeking to court Iowans ahead of the state’s presidential caucuses.
Trump’s previous participation in this game dates back to 2015 when he was running for president. At that time, he held a raucous pre-game rally in the parking lots, and his campaign shared pictures of him “touring Jack Trice Stadium” on social media.
Trump’s visit to Iowa last month marked his first trip to the Hawkeye State since the Iowa State Fair, where his campaign set up a booth that drew enthusiastic crowds. Following this tour, he faced a fourth criminal charge for misdemeanor assault, this time at the state level.
Despite the ongoing controversies and legal challenges surrounding him, Trump’s appearance at the Iowa State football game served as a testament to his enduring popularity among his base of supporters. The enthusiastic welcome he received demonstrated that his influence within the Republican Party remains formidable, setting the stage for a closely watched political journey as the 2024 presidential election season unfolds.
This expanded article delves deeper into the events surrounding Trump’s visit to the Iowa State football game, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of the atmosphere and political dynamics at play during this momentous occasion.
May You Like: Midterm Elections in 2023