In Des Moines rally, Trump pushes election misinformation

Former President Donald Trump dedicated much of his 95-minute speech on Saturday to discredited claims that he won the 2020 presidential election.


Cecilia Shearon

Former President Donald Trump greets Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, after endorsing the senator on Saturday night.

Natalie Dunlap and Lauren White

Former President Donald Trump continued to spread discredited and false claims about the 2020 presidential election at a rally in Des Moines on Saturday, while deriding the Biden administration and hinting that he may seek the presidency again in 2024. 

Thousands of Trump supporters gathered at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday night. The fairgrounds have hosted politicians in the summer during the Iowa State Fair, and on this October evening it was the site of a Republican political organization. 

“The election was a fraud and if we want to save our country and make America great again, we have only one choice. We must elect strong and unyielding American Republicans at every level,” Trump said. 

In front of the exuberant crowd, one reason Trump gave to prove his claims of winning the election is that no presidential candidate has ever won Iowa, Ohio, and Florida and went on to lose the election. However, in 1960, Richard Nixon did just that. 

Attendees of former President Donald Trump’s rally watch the president speak during the event in Des Moines on Saturday. (Cecilia Shearon/The Daily Iowan)

Trump won Iowa in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential races. 

He lost the national presidential race in 2020 to President Joe Biden, which resulted in repeated false claims by Trump that he won the election. The efforts culminated in Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to prevent Biden’s election certification.

He also rejected the findings of the Arizona election audit led by Republicans questioning Biden’s win, which once again found that Biden won the state.

He said that there were 74,000 ballots that did not have a chain of custody to them in that state prompting his high suspicion. However, this number was found using EV32 returns and EV33 files that are unofficial counts. 

“They know they got caught,” Trump said. “All you have to do is listen to the numbers.” 

In contradiction, Trump also said that Arizona was much more honest than other swing states in the nation. 

Trump also echoed lies that there were more votes than voters in Pennsylvania. 

Trump made nods to a potential 2024 run for president, but didn’t fully announce his intentions on Saturday night. He said his movement had “only just begun,” pondered a new slogan — “Make America great again, again” — and suggested 2018 Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams may seek the presidency, and he’d enjoy running against her.

Challenging the Biden administration

In his 95-minute wide-ranging speech, Trump also criticized Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying the military could have retained its military equipment, rather than leaving it in Afghanistan. 

He said  Biden’s exit was disastrous and led to the Taliban’s quick takeover of the country. Trump was also planning to leave Afghanistan before he left office. According to reporting from Axios, Trump initially attempted to quickly pull troops out of Afghanistan in December of 2020 after losing the election, but was talked out of it by military generals.

Trump also derided the state of the economy and touted it under his own administration, saying the country was energy independent during his administration, and criticizing current levels of inflation.

“Gas prices and inflation have already skyrocket,” he said. “… but it’s going to go up much more, get ready.”

Trump warned of “stagflation” under Biden, a scenario where inflation rises while economic growth stalls, often used to describe the recession of the 1970s. 

Attendees cheer during former President Donald Trump’s rally in Des Moines on Saturday. (Cecilia Shearon/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa elected officials 

All of Iowa’s congressional delegation voted to certify Biden as the president, but Iowa Republicans have not severed ties with Trump. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Rep. Ashley Hinson, and Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke at the Saturday rally — all politicians facing reelection in 2022.  

Trump said the nation’s comeback begins in 2022, and urged voters to help Republicans take back the U.S. House and Senate. 

“In 2022, help me. Help us,” Miller-Meeks said. “We have to gain a majority in the House and Senate.” 

Trump endorsed Grassley, the longest serving current Republican senator, who recently launched his reelection campaign.

“I was born at night but not last night,” Grassley said. “So if I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart. I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement.” 

Grassley said that Trump made it possible for there to be a 6-3 majority of conservatives on the Supreme Court. He also condemned current President Biden for the treatment of the situation in Afghanistan. 

“America has been extremely embarrassing, not only to the American people, but to the world on the handling of the Afghan situation, leaving Americans behind, and leaving our Afghan friends behind,” Grassley said. 

Iowa’s elected officials critiqued the Biden administration for higher prices on goods, increased immigrants entering the country, government spending, COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and the handing of the Afghanistan withdrawal. 

Other speakers included Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann, and Matt Whitaker, the former Acting Attorney General of the U.S. 

Kaufmann told the crowd, a mix of in and out-of-state attendants, to get one thing clear — that “this state is red,” prompting cheers from the crowd. When asked in an interview with The Daily Iowan on Oct. 5 if Iowa was a red state, however, he said for Iowa not to be taken advantage of, it needs to be acknowledged as a swing state. 

“So, yes, we are very red,” Kaufmann said. “But we are a swing state, I call us. I call us deep purple, and I do that for a reason, because the moment I start thinking that we are red … that’s the exact time when the Democrats are going to come back and then we’ll swing more towards the blue.”