Trump rallies thousands of voters in Des Moines less than three weeks from Election Day


Hannah Kinson

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 at the Des Moines International Airport. Several thousand people attended the rally to support the president in his reelection campaign for the upcoming election.

Julia Shanahan and Caleb McCullough

Less than three weeks out from Election Day and in the midst of a pandemic, President Trump implored Iowa voters to elect him to a second term, saying his term greatly benefited Iowa agriculture, creating a boom to the agriculture sector.

Several thousand people gathered for the rally at the Des Moines International Airport, despite a recent report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force putting the city in a yellow zone, which the task force has said shouldn’t have gatherings of more than 25.

Trump touted his agenda and painted Democratic rival Joe Biden as a corrupt politician and gateway to the liberal wing of the party.

“This election is a choice between a Trump recovery at a level that nobody’s ever seen before, and a Biden depression,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump called on Iowans to reelect U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who is in a tight race with her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. Trump also encouraged Iowans to vote for David Young, the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne to win back the seat he lost in 2018.

In 2016, Trump won Iowa’s six electoral votes by nine points. He said Wednesday that if he doesn’t win Iowa in November he “just won’t believe it.” He added that he would make sure Iowa always starts the presidential nominating process with its traditional first-in-the-nation caucuses.

“There has never been a president that has done more for farmers and ranchers, for the farmbelt, for Iowa, there’s never been a president that’s even come close to what I’ve done,” he said.

Trump started by talking about a Wednesday report from the New York Post that said Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, introduced an executive at a Ukranrian energy firm to then-Vice President Joe Biden, less than a year before Joe Biden pressured the Ukranian government into firing a prosecutor.

The Biden campaign denied the report in a statement to the New York Times Wednesday.

“Vice President Biden, you owe the people of America an apology because it turns out, you are a corrupt politician,” Trump said.

Biden released a statement Wednesday condemning the rally and noting Iowa’s coronavirus case count had surpassed 100,000.

“President Trump isn’t coming to the Hawkeye State to offer words of comfort to those suffering, or a helping hand to the Iowans who are out of a job, or an actual plan to get the virus under control,” the statement said. “Instead, he’s here to spread more lies about the pandemic and distract from his record of failure.”

James Steinberger, 57, a software developer in Waukee, Iowa, said he voted for Trump in 2016 and is planning on voting for him again. Steinberger said Trump ensures an “American standard of living,” pointing to his positions on law and order and second amendment rights.

“I just want to live a life and know that I can protect myself and that people can be protected and the laws that exist are actually enforced,” he said.

Steinberger said he supports the idea of Black Lives Matter, but said he would never separate groups of people and that all lives matter. He said there is racism in the country that needs to be addressed, but said people should allow the justice system to take its course when it comes to prosecuting police officers.

“I don’t think fixing it is just basically saying all police officers are bad people,” he said. “They protect us every day.”


Trump defended his approach to the coronavirus, saying states should open back up and schools should be open. He claimed Biden, if president, would delay the vaccine and delay pandemic recovery.

The president said of his own COVID-19 diagnosis that “it wasn’t that bad,” and that he felt like Superman after he took Regeneron, a trial drug for COVID-19 treatment.

Trump and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2, and Trump has held several in-person campaign events since his doctors reportedly told him that he can no longer transmit the virus to others.

While the Wednesday rally had signs posted asking people to wear masks, many did not follow the guideline. Campaign staffers did take attendees’ temperatures upon entrance.

Trump touted the economy, saying before the pandemic hit, the U.S. was seeing record job growth. He promised the country’s economy would recover quickly from the recession caused by the virus, and said he’s created 11.4 million jobs in the last five months.

Trump’s handling of the virus has been criticized by his opponents and many public-health experts. Mary Galligan, an Omaha resident who attended the rally, said she thinks Trump has done a good job of promoting research on COVID-19 treatment and balancing economic interests.

“I think he did phenomenally in terms of closing the border right away… and balancing the economy against the risk of getting COVID,” she said.

The Iowa Democratic Party slammed the Trump campaign in a press release Wednesday, calling the event a super-spreader rally.

“The event, which has the potential to be yet another super-spreader as COVID-19 cases in Iowa are rapidly rising, is only a distraction from Trump’s complete failure to lead on the coronavirus crisis or the historic recession,” the statement said.

On Oct. 13, Iowa reported over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases according to the New York Times COVID-19 data tracker. Iowa is one of few states without a mask mandate.


Similar to past visits to Iowa, Trump talked about the trade war with China and the $28 billion national farm bailout package that compensated farmers for lost income due to volatile markets during trade negotiations.

Trump acknowledged that farmers took financial hits, but said he’s met with farmers who understand why he has to put tariffs on Chinese goods.

“The farmers are unbelievable — they’re the heart of the nation … they said ‘we don’t want subsidies, we want a level playing field,’” Trump said.

Trump said Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would wipe out the ethanol industry and eliminate gas-powered cars. Biden’s climate plan does not call for eliminating gas-powered cars, but would provide rebates for people to trade their cars in for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The Trump administration approved the sale of year-round E15 — a big industry in Iowa. Trump said he received several calls from Iowa’s U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley about helping the ethanol industry, and he said his actions had contributed to lower fuel prices.

U.S. Supreme Court

Trump praised his nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, who is undergoing a hearing process in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barrett would fill the seat of former justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump said the questions asked by Democrats in the hearing were made in bad faith.

“I haven’t spoken to her in a few days, I want to just say that we made the right choice with Amy,” he said.

Trump said if Biden is elected, Democrats would try and pack the Supreme Court. Neither Biden or Harris answered questions during the debates as to whether or not they support packing the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act was a top issue for Democrats throughout Barrett’s confirmation hearings, because a week after Election Day, the Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on the constitutionality of the ACA.

While Trump has voiced support in the past for repealing the ACA, but did not mention it at the Wednesday rally. He did say that he will always work to protect pre-existing conditions, something that could be in danger if the ACA is repealed.

Micah O’Neal, 20, of Cedar Rapids, said he supports Barrett because she’s a staunch originalist, meaning she interprets the constitution and statutes by the text and times they were written.

“I think that she is a perfect nominee, and the fact that the Democrats in the Senate are trying to use religious bigotry to try to say she’s unqualified to be a justice is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.