(DES MOINES, Iowa) — President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign have made a habit of counter-programming major events on the Democratic primary calendar, and the upcoming Iowa caucuses will be no exception, with the team plotting perhaps their biggest showing yet.
On Monday, the Trump campaign announced a massive rally to take place just days before the caucuses in Des Moines at the Knapp Center at Drake University, the same venue that will hold this Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.
But the Trump team’s plan to disrupt the first contest of the primary season goes beyond the Des Moines rally.
Weeks out from caucus-goers picking which Democratic candidate from the remaining field receives the first major victory, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee will be on the ground across the Hawkeye State hosting a slew of political events and volunteer training sessions.
The campaign is planning to deploy top Trump surrogates including Donald Trump Jr., senior Trump campaign adviser and presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump and others to Iowa in the days leading up to the contest, according to two people close to the planning. Later this week, the Trump campaign will kick off its weeks-long effort in Iowa with a “Women for Trump” bus tour hosted by Lara Trump, Senior Adviser Mercedes Schlapp, and National Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, stopping in five cities over two days.
Vice President Mike Pence is also planning a trip to the state ahead of the caucuses, according to two people familiar with the planning. Pence has been hitting the campaign trail hard recently with stops in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The vice president’s office did not return a request for comment.
While counter-programming is nothing new for the Trump campaign, the Iowa caucus strategy is shaping up to be the first major look at how the president’s re-election team and the RNC can utilize the massive nearly $200 million war chest they collectively accumulated last year after raising nearly half a billion dollars.
One senior Trump campaign official called their Iowa caucus strategy a “dry run” and major test of their general election operation.
The counter-programming will culminate when Trump holds the rally in Iowa ahead of the caucuses, which officials involved in the planning have compared to President Ronald Reagan’s effort to upstage the 1984 Democratic Iowa caucuses with a campaign rallies in Waterloo and Des Moines.
“It’s wonderful to see so many of you here. There are almost as many of you as there are Democratic presidential candidates,” Reagan told supporters at a rally in Waterloo in 1984.
The re-election team has met each Democratic debate so far with political events and trolling tactics, including flying massive banners above arenas holding the debates, which they plan to do again ahead of Tuesday’s final debate before the caucuses in Iowa.
Trump will hold a campaign rally Tuesday night in Milwaukee, the site of the Democratic National Convention later this year.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved