(Part-1) Iowa Republicans disappoint Ron DeSantis, proving their loyalty to Trump.

Last spring, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' campaign in Iowa looked like it was created by a committee of drooling Republican politicians in a GOP State.

DeSantis, a Navy veteran, was swept into a second term with new conservative policies and a $100-million Iowa-focused political machine. It appeared to be the key to cracking former President Donald Trump's grasp on Iowa's Republican base.

In the months to follow, the former Yale baseball star would win the GOP-favored governor's support and imitate senior Sen. Chuck Grassley's annual 99-county trip with his lovely young family.

Despite his staff knocking on over 940,000 doors and DeSantis headlined about 140 events, many Iowans never warmed to the often stern and lecturing cultural warrior. “He’s not that charismatic, but I figured I should see him,” Nikki Haley supporter Steve Kessler said at DeSantis' final campaign rally Monday in Cedar Rapids.

DeSantis never deepened his connection with GOP supporters who liked Trump but were open to alternatives, from the blazing August heat of Iowa State Fair campaign events to the sub-zero slog Iowans took to their neighborhood caucuses Monday. Republican Iowa was securely in Trump's grasp when the 2024 presidential election began with a split alternative vote.

Randy Vandeberg, of GOP-heavy Rock Rapids, said he would have supported DeSantis if Trump hadn't run.

Trump proved to be a formidable obstacle for his party's competitors in a state he'd previously captured twice, even in this small sample of voters—110,000 of Iowa's 2.2 million people, essentially a national focus group. Many of the hundreds who traversed snow-packed roads in below-zero weather to express their ideas with their neighbors may have reverted to Trump in the lack of a winning next-generation contender.

If there was someone that felt like he or she could be a winner, it might have kept Trump below 50 percent,” said Gentry Collins, Mitt Romney's 2008 second-place caucus strategist. “So no candidate looks like a winner now.

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