As Donald Trump moved slowly through the crowd at the Iowa State Fair’s Animal Learning Center building on Saturday, he turned briefly to reporters, where he was asked if he intended to “undo the 2020 election.”
“You know the answer,” Trump replied.
He looked into the camera before turning back to the crowd, where supporters in red hats cheered and waited for him to approach.
The former president and 2024 Republican frontrunner’s visit to the Iowa State Fair was designed to trample the attention and momentum that several of his rivals, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, sought at the fair Saturday.
It also sparked roaring crowds in the first state caucus, many of whom remain loyal to Trump as he faces multiple pending criminal cases.
At nearly every turn as he walked through the fairgrounds, Trump was asked about the 2020 presidential election and his legal battles. He faces a newly imposed order from a federal judge not to threaten witnesses in connection with the pending case and is expected to face charges soon in a new case in Georgia, also related to the 2020 election.
Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges brought against him, continued on Saturday to outright deny any wrongdoing by himself or his allies while still making unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election .
“I can tell you one thing, there was a lot of shenanigans going on with the election,” he told reporters in front of his private jet before taking off Saturday afternoon. “A lot of bad things happened during that election.”
And he dismissed a question asking if he would consider taking a plea deal, calling it a “wise question” and stating that “we don’t take plea deals…we haven’t done anything wrong.”
His former running mate, Mike Pence, also at the fair Saturday, told the Register that while he was vice president, “there wasn’t a moment” when Trump “ever told me he knew he lost the 2020 election.” But he also insisted that Trump had asked Pence to choose him over the US Constitution.
Iowa primaries 2024: Mike Pence cannot recall a single moment when Trump said he knew he was losing in 2020
Trump instead often reverted to his support in Iowa — referencing his lead in the polls and his previous victories in the state (green hats were handed out to supporters who declared the Trump campaign “back-to-back Iowa champs”; he won Iowa in both the 2016 and 2020 general elections, but came in second in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses).
His campaign made signals of that support ring loud and clear on the stock market.
His jet flew over the fairgrounds Saturday morning, eliciting cheers from supporters on the ground as DeSantis finished flipping chops. Supporters were encouraged by the Trump campaign to meet at key locations more than an hour before the former president arrived, prompting a large number of red hats and MAGA flags as Trump’s rivals roamed the grounds.
Before boarding his jet to take off, he snapped photos next to Iowa “super-volunteers” who had been knocking on doors and making appeals for the campaign.
And above the fair a plane flew with a banner with the mocking message from the governor of Florida: “Be sympathetic, Ron!”
Still, symbols of support for his detractors shone through: As he left the Steer N Stein restaurant, several attendees with red “DeSantis 2024” signs greeted him from the front of the crowd.
Trump, making his own fair schedule, refuses to appear with Kim Reynolds and mocks Ron DeSantis
Trump’s stop at the fair was different from his rivals’ visits, as he eschewed key events of the year, such as a talk with Governor Kim Reynolds, in favor of his own schedule, leaving the grounds after just over an hour .
He has previously criticized Reynolds for remaining neutral in the caucus process. Trump did not answer directly when asked by the registry if he had spoken with the governor recently, instead referring to his past visits with her. Reynolds did not appear with Trump on Saturday.
“I have a really good relationship with her,” Trump said. “I elected her, supported her. I came in and rallied for her when she was way behind.”
Iowa primaries 2024: Ron DeSantis says “China is laughing at us” as protesters disrupt the state’s fair speech
She did make an appearance with DeSantis, though: She sat down for one of her “fairy talks” with the governor as he spent the day at the fairgrounds. He attracted a standing room-only crowd — though that was not acknowledged by the former president.
“He had a very small audience,” Trump said. “Only a few people showed up.”
DeSantis and other candidates seeking to unseat Trump will soon be traveling to Milwaukee for the first debate of the 2024 primary. When asked by the Register on Saturday if he would attend, Trump remained noncommittal.
“It’ll be interesting, won’t it?” he said. “Do you think I would?”
Brianne Pfannenstiel and Stephen Gruber-Miller contributed reporting.
Galen Bacharier covers politics for the registry. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (573) 219-7440, and follow him on Twitter @galenbacharier.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Trump Makes His Way Through Crowds and Legal Questions as He Visits the Iowa Fair