Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination at a rally in Des Moines on Monday evening, sources familiar with the planning of the event confirmed to Fox News.
The endorsement is seen as a boost for DeSantis’ presidential hopes as polls indicate the governor trailing frontrunner Trump in a distant second in Iowa and in national surveys.
Reynolds, the popular two-term GOP governor of the state, is set to join DeSantis at his rally in Des Moines as a “special guest,” according to a social media account associated with the Florida governor’s presidential campaign.
And Fox News confirmed that the governors will team up again on Tuesday at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa, in the eastern part of the state.
Iowa plays a crucial role in the race for the White House, as its caucuses for half a century have kicked off the GOP presidential nominating calendar. And Reynolds faced criticism from Trump earlier this year for her pledge to stay neutral in the presidential nomination race, which is in line with previous Iowa governors.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign event with Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.(AP Photo/Ron Johnson)
While she remained neutral in the 2024 GOP nomination battle as the field of contenders grew to over a dozen candidates, Reynolds – who convincingly won re-election to a second term last year – had repeatedly not ruled out endorsing as the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses neared.
DeSantis has concentrated the vast majority of his campaign trail time and resources in Iowa the past couple of months, and has so far made stops in 87 of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties.
Trump’s the commanding front-runner in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination as he makes his third straight White House run. He saw his lead expand over his rivals during the spring and summer as he made history as the first former or current president in American history to be indicted for a crime. Trump’s four indictments – including in federal court in Washington, D.C., and in Fulton County court in Georgia on charges he tried to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss – have only fueled his support among Republican voters.
DeSantis joined Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Aug. 12, 2023.(Fox News Digital – Paul Steinhauser)
News of the Reynolds endorsement of DeSantis was first reported by the Des Moines Register.
While DeSantis appears to have gotten crucial support from Reynolds, seven state legislators from Florida endorsed Trump last week, including five state Republicans who flipped their support from DeSantis, according to the Trump campaign.
“We’re going to win the Florida primary for the third straight time, and we’re going to win the state by a landslide next November,” Trump told a lively crowd Saturday evening in Kissimmee, Florida, before calling to the stage several Florida lawmakers who switched their endorsements from DeSantis.
The latest flips came two days after U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, DeSantis’ predecessor as governor, announced his support for Trump. Scott reaffirmed his choice Saturday, without ever mentioning DeSantis.
Former President Donald Trump is surrounded by supporters at the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
“You might have seen that I endorsed President Trump,” Scott said to rapturous applause from the crowd. “I don’t think there’s any question in my mind. He is the one person running that can really bring strength back to our country.”
As DeSantis and Trump remain locked in picking off Republican support from each other, a close eye is being kept on the endorsement of another early-state governor: New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu, a vocal GOP Trump critic.
The Granite State holds the first primary and second overall contest in the Republican presidential nominating calendar.
Sununu has said he’ll endorse one of the Republican presidential candidates ahead of the New Hampshire primary. He spent a full day campaigning with DeSantis two weeks ago.
Nikki Haley is introduced by Gov. Chris Sununu at a campaign town hall meeting in Merrimack, New Hampshire, on Sept. 6, 2023.(Reuters/Brian Snyder)
And on Thursday, he campaigned with former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who later served as ambassador to the United Nations during the first two years of the Trump administration. Haley has leapfrogged DeSantis for second place in most of the recent polls in New Hampshire and her home state, which holds the fourth contest in the GOP schedule.
Sununu, who flirted for months with a White House run of his own before announcing in June that he wouldn’t seek the presidency, told Fox News Digital earlier this autumn, “I’m not going to wait too long. My sense is November. Early December. Just like most voters, I’m going to start narrowing this thing down and then when I go, I’ll go.”
And two weeks ago, when asked again about his timetable, the governor said, “When the mood hits me.”
Adding that he’s not coy, he said, “When I know everyone else will know.”
Fox News’ Alexis McAdams, Bryan Llenas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.