Nearly half a year after President Trump’s inauguration, it seems to some he is rallying to garner excitement about the prospects of his re-election.
After postponing a Cedar Rapids rally in May, he is set to hold a 7 p.m. rally at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Holding a rally five months into his presidency has some people wondering if this is a belated victory lap or the early onset of Trump’s 2020 bid for re-election.
Cary Covington, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science, said Trump announcing his candidacy for the 2020 race this early would be unprecedented, but that the presumption that a president intends to run for re-election is universal.
“This is interesting, but doesn’t really change anything,” Covington said. “President Trump campaigning this early is also unprecedented. I am not sufficiently informed of the circumstances to say much about his visit to Cedar Rapids.”
UI political-science Professor Sara Mitchell said she thinks the rally could be a delayed part of his victory tour. She also said politicians campaign in Iowa early on because of the significant media attention surrounding the first-in-the-nation caucuses, which influence the chances that candidates can continue to run in the primaries.
“Now as an incumbent, the Iowa caucuses should be less consequential for the president because the party generally selects its own president to be the candidate for the election,” Mitchell said. “But if members of his own party are not happy with his leadership, which is possible, given he has extremely low presidential approval ratings by historical standards, then Trump may see advantages of building relationships with Iowa voters now.”
Justin Wasson, the chairman of the Linn County Republicans, said he predicts Trump will serve a second term, despite recent Gallup polls showing Trump’s job disapproval rating at 60 percent.
“At the end of the day, approval is just approval ratings,” he said. “They don’t change the fact that he’s our president.”
Wasson said he continues to see Trump fulfill his campaign promises, and thinks Iowans are satisfied and willing to rally alongside the president.
“I think a lot of the message that Trump portrayed during his 2016 campaign resonated with people from Iowa,” he said. “I think the numbers showed that. I think his message is particularly tailored for a lot of working-class people.”
Bret Nilles, the chairman of Linn County Democrats, said he feels Trump has not fulfilled several campaign promises, including creating jobs and boosting the economy’s growth rate and not bringing forth an infrastructure bill in Congress. He also said the withdrawal from the Paris Accord has been a failure for the environment.
Nilles said he thinks Trump is focusing on campaign rallies as a way of gaining publicity and exciting people about the potential of his administration rather than discussing what is actually being done to help Iowans.
With Trump choosing Cedar Rapids as his Iowa rally destination, Nilles said it contrasts with what the overall county citizens voted for.
“Linn County is a vote for Hillary [Clinton] and a Democratic stronghold,” Nilles said. “There are a lot of surrounding counties that voted for Trump and also because of the news media being centralized in Cedar Rapids.”
In the 2016 presidential election, Linn County gave Clinton 51 percent of the vote and Trump 42 percent, according to a Politico election results chart.
The Cedar Rapids rally exemplifies the failure of Trump’s presidency, Nilles said.
“He’s holding campaign rallies 150 days after his inauguration to talk about what he’s going to do,” Nilles said. “To date, he hasn’t really done anything — just a lot of talk and promises so far that really haven’t amounted to anything.”