Less than six months before the 2024 Iowa caucuses, former President Donald Trump’s grip on the GOP seems as solid as ever. Despite multiple criminal indictments and well-funded direct mail and tv ad campaigns targeting him, Trump has a large lead over the crowded presidential field in nationwide and Iowa polls of Republican voters.
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has failed to gain ground with rank-and-file Iowa Republicans, despite massive support from this state’s political establishment and Governor Kim Reynolds’ thinly-disguised efforts to boost his prospects.
The Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner on July 28 was the first event featuring both candidates, along with eleven others. State party leaders strictly enforced the ten-minute time limit, which forced the contenders to present a concise case to the audience of around 1,000.
I’ve posted my take on each candidates below, in the order they appeared on Friday night. I added some thoughts at the end about former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the only declared GOP candidate to skip the event (and all other Iowa “cattle calls” this year).
C-SPAN carried all the speeches. All partial transcripts below are mine. (The transcripts on C-SPAN’s website are based on closed captioning, which conveys the gist but not always the exact words candidates used.)
The former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations crammed a lot into her ten minutes: straight talk about Republicans, personal narrative, appeals to nostalgia, reminders of her foreign policy background and record on immigration, and some cheap shots at President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
She began with some “hard truths” about the national debt and the “spending addiction” that affects Republicans as well as Democrats in Washington. She portrayed both parties as to blame for massive federal spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, and criticized Congressional Republicans for allowing earmarks in budget bills.
Haley then pivoted to an extended riff on lax security at the southern border, where Border Patrol are forced to be “glorified babysitters” as undocumented immigrants and fentanyl move across the border. She promised to “quit borrowing” and “cut up the credit cards,” while also pledging to invest more resources in border security. She even threw in a line about term limits for Washington politicians—a dumb idea that will never happen.
As she’s done at previous campaign events, Haley slipped in a subtle electability argument. After talking about her husband’s latest military deployment, she praised those who are willing to sacrifice and fight for us.
So if they’re willing to fight for us there, we should be willing to fight for America here. (applause)
But in order to do that, it’s going to take a lot of courage. Courage for me to run. And courage for every one of you to remember: don’t complain about what we get in a general election if you don’t play in this caucus. It matters.
Haley may be hoping to build a reputation as a brave truth-teller. But it doesn’t take “courage” to bash the DC establishment at an event in Des Moines. I didn’t hear her express any “hard truths” that might upset Iowa Republicans. She won’t even say out loud that Trump would likely lose the general election.
And while Haley is a polished speaker, she doesn’t always sound genuine. That was most apparent when she touched on an idea she’s floated before: “And if this week didn’t prove it to you, we’ve got to have mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75.” That’s not “being disrespectful,” she insisted. Our leaders are making national security and economic decisions. Plus, “These aren’t tough tests.” They ask simple questions like “Tell me four words that start with the letter A. What town were you born in? How many grandchildren do you have?”
At that point, Haley smirked and paused for several seconds, waiting for the audience to react. “What? I don’t know what y’all are laughing at,” she claimed, as if she hadn’t just scored points off the granddaughter President Biden publicly acknowledged for the first time this week.
This appearance probably didn’t hurt Haley with anyone already supporting her or leaning her way. And she’s qualified for the first televised Republican debate on August 23, so she will have a chance to reach a larger audience. But I doubt many people came away from the Lincoln Dinner seeing Haley as the most promising alternative to Trump.
The former federal prosecutor, member of Congress, and governor of Arkansas began by reminding the crowd that this is his thirteenth Iowa visit since January. He’s had a generally chilly reception here so far, in part because he has acknowledged Trump may have committed crimes (as opposed to being a victim of political persecution). He drove that point home again near the end of his speech on Friday.
But first, some pleasantries were in order. Hutchinson and his wife are coming up on their 50th wedding anniversary. They’ve had wonderful, happy times together. “And I want you to know, I know how many grandchildren I have—I have seven.”
Hutchinson thanked Reynolds and the Iowa legislature for passing a new abortion ban this month. He said he signed more than 30 “pro-life” bills as governor and promised to be a “pro-life president.”
He then reflected on his childhood, growing up with a “simple life” on a cattle/poultry farm. His parents had high school educations but taught their children the values of work, faith, helping neighbors, and responsibility. “Those are values you can only learn on a farm,” Hutchinson added—which will be news to the hundreds of millions of Americans who manage to work, worship, and help their neighbors despite not being raised on a farm.
Hutchinson hasn’t yet qualified for the first Republican candidates’ debate, so he threw in a quick fundraising pitch to help him get on stage.
For the next several minutes, Hutchinson discussed the “serious times in which we live,” touching on many domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the country. He then hinted at the elephant in the GOP primary:
Yes, these are serious times in which we live, and our freedoms are at stake. And because these are serious times, we need serious-minded leaders.
Hutchinson described his work as the youngest U.S. attorney appointed by President Ronald Reagan, his service in Congress during the last time the federal budget was balanced, and his work on border security in President George W. Bush’s administration. He touted some of his successes as governor on taxes, education, the economy, and keeping schools and businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If elected president, Hutchinson promised to take action to secure the border, pursue a “pro-growth energy policy,” balance the budget, reduce regulations, and support the military and veterans. He believes in “fundamental conservative principles” and would reduce the administrative state and non-defense workforce.
Then Hutchinson turned to the “serious moment for our party.” His time expired before he could finish everything he had planned to say, but he got the main point across:
But the GOP is under threat today. As it stands right now, you will be voting in Iowa while multiple criminal cases are pending against former President Trump.
Iowa has an opportunity to say: we as a party, we need a new direction for America and for the GOP. We are a party of individual responsibility, accountability, and support for the rule of law. We must not abandon that.
We are the party of Abraham Lincoln. We are the party of Ronald Reagan. And it is a time for serious leaders to meet the serious challenges that we have.
I’m skeptical that any significant number of Iowa Republican caucus-goers would embrace that call. And since Hutchinson is unlikely to qualify for the televised debates, he will struggle to break through.
The Florida governor began with some trash talk about sending Biden “back to his basement in Delaware on a permanent vacation.” He promised not to allow any cocaine in the White House and joked that since his son is only five years old, “he will not be lining his pockets with money from foreign governments.”
DeSantis quickly acknowledged Iowa GOP state chair Jeff Kaufmann, the Iowa legislature, and “your outstanding governor” for her leadership.
The bulk of his stump speech was a pitch to reverse American decline by delivering for the country what he has done in Florida. DeSantis was almost shouting as he listed the policies he’d implemented, from tax cuts and paying down debt to culture war favorites like banning “critical race theory” and rejecting COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
What DeSantis promised for the federal government ranged from pipe dreams (term limits for members of Congress, ordering all federal agencies to reduce their footprint in Washington by at least 50 percent) to echoes of Trump’s agenda (building a border wall, “housecleaning at the Department of Justice” to end the “weaponization” of federal agencies).
The governor turned down the volume a notch as he talked about his military record and wartime service, a point that presumably polled well with Iowa Republicans. (Incidentally, I recommend reading Roger Sollenberger’s reporting for the Daily Beast on how Showtime spiked a VICE documentary about DeSantis’ service at Guantanamo Bay.) DeSantis then bashed the “woke ideology” and social experimentation that is supposedly hurting military recruiting.
Like Haley, DeSantis built up to an electability argument, without mentioning Trump by name.
So here’s the thing. We’re not getting a Mulligan on 2024. We either win this election and make good on all the promises that we’re making, or the Democrats are going to throw this country into a hole that’s going to take us a generation to come out of.
I believe that decline is a choice. I believe success is attainable, and I know that freedom is worth fighting for.
This is our chance in 2024 to send the Biden-Harris administration to the dustbin of history where it belongs. We have to rise to the occasion. We have to fight the good fight. We have to finish the race, and we have to keep the faith.
The time for excuses is over. We must get the job done. I will get the job done. God bless you all, thank you so much.
We’re doing all 99 counties in Iowa, because this caucus demands that you earn it, and you gotta go meet the folks. So you’ll see me everywhere. God bless you all! Thank you so much. Let’s win in 2024!
Quite a few people cheered and applauded as DeSantis wrapped up his Lincoln Dinner remarks. But the polls suggest he’s still far behind the front-runner, and I don’t see how he turns it around by promising to be like Trump, but electable.
The latest Fox Business poll of Iowa Republicans, which was in the field less than two weeks ago, showed Trump at 46 percent among likely GOP caucus-goers, to 16 percent for DeSantis and 11 percent for Senator Tim Scott. More ominously for DeSantis, that poll shows Trump “leads by 36 points among those saying agreement on issues is extremely important and by 34 points among those prioritizing winning.”
How can that be? Remember, lots of Republicans don’t believe Trump lost the 2020 election. It probably will be hard to convince them Trump can’t win in 2024.
What about the criminal indictments? Well, DeSantis just railed against “weaponization” of the FBI and Justice Department.
As for visiting all 99 counties while Trump does a few rallies in larger cities, the “full Grassley” approach is an asset for candidates who are good at working a room and connecting with voters face to face. That doesn’t seem to be part of the DeSantis skill set. He’s done well with party elites, but most caucus-goers don’t care who has the most state legislative endorsements.
Others have written about the DeSantis campaign’s money problems and strategic missteps. I generally agree with Josh Marshall that he was never well-positioned to displace Trump. But he’ll have a chance to prove us wrong in the televised debates.
Everything I’ve seen from the South Carolina senator suggests to me that he’s running for vice president. The Lincoln Dinner speech was no exception.
Scott has an appealing speaking style and never challenges Republican audiences with inconvenient truths. All presidential candidates pander to some degree, but starting a speech with “How many of you all are just like me, really proud to be Americans?” is next level.
As he’s done in other Iowa settings, Scott shared lessons learned from his grandfather, who taught him to “kneel to the Father in prayer” and “stand for the flag in respect.” Those phrases echo a slogan that has inspired many conservative memes and t-shirts.
Scott also praised his mother, who worked 16 hours a day as a nurse’s aide and “taught me there is dignity in all work, and that if you’re able-bodied in America, you work.” (I wish he would explain why it’s great for single parents to have to work 16-hour days to support their households.)
The pandering continued as Scott touched on just about every conservative obsession: if you take out a loan, pay it back; get tough on crime; men should play sports against men; build a wall to protect our southern border; destroy the drug cartels; stop China from spying on our kids and buying farmland.
Scott talked about “three specific areas” he’d like to focus on to create 10 million good jobs: “minerals, medicines, and microchips.” Sounds to me like a brief for a vice president.
He wrapped up with an appeal to “win the culture war at home” by fighting the supposed Democratic culture of victimhood, and choosing “greatness over grievance.” He repeated a version of a promise he’s made before: “As president of the United States, I will make sure that the truth of my life continues to disprove the lies of the radical left.”
To sum up, this speech had everything a presidential candidate could want in a running mate. Nothing that would alienate any part of the Republican base. (Scott avoided talk about cutting entitlements, which he has brought up in some other campaign appearances.) No veiled digs at Trump or DeSantis. Comfort with bashing Democrats and the “radical left,” which would fit the attack dog role sometimes played by vice presidential nominees.
Scott has room to grow his support. He has qualified for next month’s debate, and according to the Fox Business poll, only 12 percent of Iowa Republicans say they would never vote for him.
I’ll never stop being amazed by wealthy men who decide to spend millions on a hopeless presidential campaign, instead of doing something more useful with their money. Perry Johnson barely registers in polls, even after sending several rounds of direct mail to Iowa Republicans. His solo campaign appearances generate little interest.
But there he was at the Lincoln Dinner, touting his “ultraconservative agenda”: “pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-woke, anti-China,” adding that he finds it “ridiculous” for the U.S. to send billions of dollars to Ukraine “when we’re going broke here.”
Johnson suggested that “many people” compare him to Ross Perot—wishful thinking, since Perot received nearly 20 million votes as an independent candidate for president in 1992.
Revealing ignorance about how federal budgeting works, Johnson promised that as president, he would “immediately” freeze the budget and cut discretionary spending by 2 percent.
I see Johnson as angling for a cabinet position or some other prominent role in a future Trump administration. He told the crowd in Des Moines he would ban gender-affirming care for minors, shut down the U.S. Department of Education, get rid of extra IRS agents funded by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, and shut down the FBI. He also wants to impeach Biden and would pardon Trump.
The cherry on top: Johnson said cutting Social Security would be a “huge mistake.” A pro-Trump super-PAC has spent millions of dollars on ads attacking DeSantis for voting to cut Social Security as a member of Congress.
By the end of his speech, Johnson was literally screaming about America’s greatness. I have no idea why anyone would caucus for this guy. And since he’s unlikely to qualify for tv debates, he won’t have many chances to break through.
In less than two months as a declared presidential candidate, the North Dakota governor has already spent millions of dollars on tv and radio ads as well as direct mail. He delivered a standard introductory speech at the Lincoln Dinner. He grew up in a small town and worked many jobs “where you take a shower at the end of the day, not at the beginning. Imagine a president who understands the real work that Americans do every day.”
Like many other speakers, Burgum thanked Reynolds for what she’s accomplished as governor. He also asked his spouse to stand and be recognized. Kathryn Burgum has been open about her recovery from addiction, helping to “remove the shame and stigma,” her husband said. “Her leadership has saved lives. Imagine the difference she’ll make as first lady of the United States.”
Burgum built a “tiny startup” into a worldwide billion-dollar company. He argued that he knows how to compete in a global economy. He also spent several minutes talking about energy policy—fossil fuels extraction is a major industry in North Dakota—and promised to address border security.
I’m not sure who Burgum’s constituency is supposed to be. But he has qualified for the first televised GOP debate, thanks to a scheme to give $20 gift cards to everyone who donated a dollar to his campaign. So he will have an opportunity to make an impression with a wider audience.
Who’s going to tell him?
It’s painful to watch the former vice president in this campaign. Of the fourteen GOP contenders, his bid for the presidency makes the least sense. He’s not in line for a senior role in anyone else’s administration. And if you love what Trump did, why not just vote for Trump again?
Pence offered his own version of the argument the audience had already heard from Haley and DeSantis. He uses this riff in his regular stump speech.
Joe Biden’s been a disaster for America. And I understand the temptation to cling to what is familiar over leadership fitted to the times. But I believe we must resist the politics of personality, and the siren song of populism unmoored to conservative values. Because different times calls for different leadership.
To defeat Joe Biden I believe we must give the American people new Republican leadership, leadership with a proven commitment to the conservative agenda.
I haven’t seen any polling that suggests Pence would be a strong general election candidate. His stance on abortion alone puts him way outside the mainstream.
More to the point, many MAGA Republicans loathe Pence because he didn’t try to tank the electoral vote count on January 6, 2001. In the recent Fox Business poll, 37 percent of Iowa GOP respondents said they would never vote for Pence. Trump was second on that metric (22 percent), and Haley third (21 percent).
Being hated by one faction might might not be a huge problem if Pence had a large cadre of passionate supporters. But the opposite is true. Despite his long political career, including stints as a member of Congress and governor of Indiana before he was vice president, Pence hasn’t yet hit the donor threshold to qualify for the first televised debate.
Whereas some other candidates drew loud cheers from the Lincoln Dinner crowd, Pence received only a smattering of polite applause after promising to make the “Trump-Pence tax cuts permanent,” and to reinstate the ban on transgender personnel in the U.S. military. Reaction was similarly muted when he called for a federal 15-week abortion ban, and pledged to “restore honesty, integrity, and civility to American public life.”
The bottom line is that few Iowa Republicans are buying what Pence is selling.
The former U.S. representative from Texas bombed in one sense. But if you consider the long game, he may have had the most successful speech of the evening.
Hurd got booed off the stage, which guaranteed that his explosive remarks about Trump would receive extensive media coverage. That instantly raised his name ID.
Hurd’s full remarks begin around the 1:10:20 mark in the video I posted above. At first it seems like a standard introductory speech, with background on the candidate’s family and career before Congress. Then he broached some uncomfortable territory.
My mother always told me, speak the truth always. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m also not going to kiss anybody’s butt. And I’m not going to lick anybody’s boots.
I’m sick and tired of our elected officials telling us that our neighbors are our enemies. Our neighbors aren’t our enemies. They’re our fellow Americans, who we just happen to disagree with.
He continued that if Republicans want to accomplish their policy goals, “then we have to win elections.” He reminded the crowd that it’s been 20 years since a Republican won the popular vote in a presidential election. The party lost the U.S. House in 2018, then the White House and U.S. Senate in 2020. The red wave didn’t materialize in 2022.
“We all know how bad Joe Biden’s numbers are. He can be beat,” Hurd said. Republicans have a chance to win not just one election, but set up sixteen years of conservative leadership.
But Trump lost the 2020 election because he “failed to grow the GOP brand” in areas like suburban women with a college degree, Black and Brown communities, and voters under age 35.
Here’s the last part of the speech, which was widely quoted.
One of the things we need in our elected leaders [is] for them to tell the truth, even if it’s unpopular.
Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again. Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 and 2020. [some disapproving noises from the audience]
Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison. [boos and jeers]
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know. Listen, I know the truth, the truth is hard. But if we elect Donald Trump, we are willingly giving Joe Biden four more years in the White House, and America can’t handle that. God bless you, and God bless America.
Hurd’s not going to be the nominee and probably won’t win a single delegate to the Republican National Convention. But if Trump wins the nomination and fails in the November election, Hurd will be remembered as the rival candidate who most forcefully warned of the catastrophe. And he’s only 45 years old—young enough to run for president in the future, if the pendulum ever swings back.
It’s worth noting that as a member of Congress, Hurd voted against Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019. So his beef may be mostly with the former president’s political baggage—not his behavior in office.
The mayor of Miami joked that Hurd “just made it very easy for me. It’s always good to come in off a boo.”
As perhaps the least-known of the speakers to Iowans, Suarez used his time to introduce himself and tout his record as mayor—lowering taxes, reducing crime, balancing the budget. He noted that his parents were “kicked out” of Communist Cuba but did not mention that his father also served as mayor of Miami (and was a Democrat).
Suarez talked about the threats posed by China and drug cartels, and argued that the U.S. has failed to project strength and competency.
He finished on a lighter note, inviting the audience to his after party. “In Miami, we throw good after parties.” In what sounded like a joke at DeSantis’ expense, Suarez said, “I don’t have a fancy bus. I don’t have a private plane. But we do have these amazing towels with my name on them.” He promised Iowans would get to know him better in the coming months.
The business owner and pastor from Dallas said he’s not in the race to promote a brand name, sell a book, or gain another position. Rather, he made the bold claim that he was there to share a message from God that came to his heart about eight years ago.
“The Lord wanted me to speak to you about the destiny of our country and some things that he has been saying, and it’s pretty simple. It’s time for America to have an economic revival, and it’s time for America to have a spiritual revival, and the time for that is now.”
Binkley said he’s visited 50 counties in Iowa already and portrayed the Republican Party as divided. But he believes it’s “God’s will” for the country to move forward.
Lots of GOP candidates appeal to Iowa’s Christian conservatives, but I can’t remember anyone claiming to speak directly for God before. As for policy, Binkley was all over the place: deal with the unsustainable national debt, take on big Pharma, invest in urban America.
I can’t see Binkley becoming a factor in this race. Doug Burns covered two of his events last week and noted that he tried to generate small campaign contributions by organizing a showing of the movie The Sound of Freedom, which pushes conspiracy theories about human trafficking.
The talk show host and former candidate for governor of California is a skillful communicator. He shared some inspiring stories about his parents and drew applause when he claimed the “epidemic of fatherlessness” is the biggest problem facing the country. According to Elder, neither party is talking about that problem—Democrats because “they caused the problem” through Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, and Republicans because they are afraid of being called racist.
Elder also denounced the “complete and total disaster” known as urban education, slamming Democrats for opposing school choice policies.
Finally, he denounced the “lie that America is systemically racist,” saying that is contrary to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision. He further argued that the accusation has had a detrimental effect on policing, as officers pull back for fear of being called racist.
The Lincoln Dinner crowd warmly received Elder’s remarks, but I don’t see a niche for him. Other candidates are talking about school choice, and I doubt Iowa Republicans are particularly concerned about urban schools in that context. In addition, Tim Scott has a better political resume and more money to spend promoting himself as a Black man who insists the U.S. is not systemically racist. With Elder likely to miss the debates, he will struggle to gain traction.
The youngest candidate in the GOP field is a dynamic speaker, and he delivered on Friday night with his usual diatribe against “wokeism,” the “Deep State,” and other ills. He didn’t criticize any rivals by name, but contrasted himself with those who want to reform government institutions.
But when those institutions, when that government, when that deep state has become so rotten we can no longer just fix it from the top. This is not a moment for reform. I don’t stand for reform. I stand for revolution.
Federal agencies Ramaswamy intends to shut down include the U.S. Department of Education, the FBI, the IRS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Centers for Disease Control.
Near the end of his speech, Ramaswamy fired off a bunch of one-liners to illustrate that his campaign can appeal to young people by speaking the truth “without apology.”
God is real.
There are two genders.
Fossil fuels are a requirement for human prosperity.
Reverse racism is racism.
An open border is not a border.
Parents determine the education of their children.
The nuclear family is the best-known form of governance to mankind.
Capitalism is the best system known to man to lift people up from poverty.
There are three branches of government—not four.
And the U.S. Constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedom in human history. That is the truth. We will not back down from the truth. We stand up for the truth.
That is what won us the American Revolution. That is what will win us the Revolution of 2024.
By the way, when Ramaswamy refers to the “fourth” branch of government, he’s not talking about the news media (sometimes known as the “fourth estate”). He’s talking about the administrative state, which is actually part of the executive branch, not a separate branch.
The Fox Business poll showed Ramaswamy with 6 percent support among Iowa Republicans, and he’s already qualified for the first tv debate.
All the candidates came on stage to fragments of the same country music song by Brooks and Dunn. But many commentators noticed that when Trump walked toward the podium, the lyric from “Only in America” that blasted over the speakers was “One could end up going to prison, one just might be president.”
The best thing I can say about Trump’s speech is he stuck to the time limit. I doubted he would manage that; at his own rallies, he can easily spend more than ten minutes just rehashing old grievances.
The former president’s staff had obviously impressed upon him how important it was to get through his prepared remarks. So he mostly stuck to the script: “I’m here to deliver a very simple message: Iowa has never had a better friend in the White House than President Donald J. Trump, and I think we know that.”
The long list ranged from supporting Iowa farmers to expanding ethanol sales to keeping the Iowa caucuses first to appointing Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wave. Trump also bashed critical race theory and inclusive policies toward transgender people.
Iowa Starting Line’s Pat Rynard observed that Trump was phoning it in, and I agree. Even the insults he lobbed at “Ron DeSanctus” were boring.
Trump indirectly responded to other candidates’ claim that he is not electable. He pointed to his victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in 2016, and the 200 counties he flipped (including 31 in Iowa) that had previously gone for “Barack Hussein Obama” twice. He falsely claimed “they rigged the presidential election in 2020” by using the COVID-19 pandemic “to cheat,” and promised his campaign wouldn’t let Democrats rig next year’s race.
Alluding to his pending criminal indictments, Trump asserted he “would have nobody coming after me” if he weren’t running for office. He characterized Biden as the “most crooked president in the history of our country by far, and also grossly incompetent.” In closing, he promised to “win the election big” and of course, “make America great again.”
If multiple criminal charges haven’t sunk Trump yet, he’s not going to be undone by a poorly crafted, poorly delivered speech. The 2024 Iowa caucuses are his to lose, whether or not he participates in any of the Republican debates.
The former governor of New Jersey made a serious play for Iowa in 2015. He hired staff who had previously worked for Governor Terry Branstad, and was endorsed by such heavyweights as outgoing Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and major donor Bruce Rastetter.
Christie ended up finishing tenth in the 2016 caucuses, with less than 2 percent support and no state delegates.
He’s bypassing Iowa this time and is trying to make a mark in New Hampshire. Even without any visits or campaign speeches here, Christie had 3 percent in the recent Fox Business poll of Iowa Republicans, tied with Burgum and within the margin of error of Haley, Pence, and Ramaswamy.
The former governor appears to have qualified for next month’s debate. Assuming he participates (he would need to sign a loyalty pledge first), his aggressive style will probably generate some headlines. So I won’t be surprised next January if the Iowa caucus results show Christie outperforming a half-dozen candidates who came to the Lincoln Dinner.