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Trump Returns to Campaign Trail in Iowa06/01 06:14


   LACONIA, N.H. (AP) -- Former President Donald Trump returns to the campaign 
trail Thursday as his chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Florida 
Gov. Ron DeSantis, is undertaking his first swing through early voting states 
as an official candidate.

   Trump is back in Iowa nearly three weeks after canceling his last event, a 
large rally near Des Moines, due to a tornado warning, reluctantly ceding the 
spotlight to DeSantis as the governor crisscrossed the state ahead of his 
campaign launch.

   Trump, who has spent the last few weeks attacking DeSantis on social media 
and mocking his glitch-filled kickoff announcement, has a series of events 
scheduled around Des Moines followed by a town hall airing on Fox News Channel 
on Thursday night.

   DeSantis is coming off a two-day burst of stops around Iowa, which leads off 
the GOP presidential primary contest next year. On Thursday, he will be in the 
early voting state of New Hampshire, with stops scheduled in Laconia, 
Rochester, Salem and Manchester, before taking his campaign on Friday to South 
Carolina, another state high on the presidential voting calendar.

   The dueling appearances between Trump and DeSantis come as each man is 
portraying himself as the stronger fighter for conservative policies.

   Although DeSantis had largely avoided hitting back at Trump's constant 
attacks before he announced his presidential run, the governor pledged in Iowa 
this week that he would "fight back." He accused Trump of discarding "America 
First" immigration principles and having "moved left" on issues.

   Trump and his allies have continued to attack DeSantis on social media, with 
the former president sharing polls that showed him the heavy favorite in the 
GOP primary, criticizing DeSantis' leadership during the pandemic. Trump in 
recent days has also pledged to end the constitutional right to citizenship for 
babies of noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States, 
something he's called for since he first campaigned for the White House in 2015 
but didn't do in his first term as president.

   Trump, after appearing Wednesday night at a GOP legislative dinner in Des 
Moines, is set to appear Thursday morning at one of the twice-monthly 
breakfasts of a conservative club at a restaurant in Urbandale. The Westside 
Conservative Breakfast events are a long-standing stop for Republican 
candidates for all levels of elected office, including presidential hopefuls.

   The former president is later expected to have lunch with faith leaders, 
visit with activists and supporters and then participate in a town hall with 
Sean Hannity taped late afternoon in the Des Moines suburb of Clive. The town 
hall will air at 9 p.m. Thursday on Fox News.

   DeSantis' stop in New Hampshire is scheduled to look similar to his Iowa 
swing, with a series of appearances around the state and one event billed as a 
"fireside chat" with his wife, Casey DeSantis.

   As Trump and DeSantis make their pitch to GOP voters, the Republican 
presidential field is shaping up to become even more crowded.

   Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to launch a Republican 
presidential campaign June 6 in New Hampshire. The next day, both Mike Pence, 
Trump's former vice president, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum are expected 
to announce campaigns of their own.

   U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, 
former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and biotech entrepreneur and "anti-woke" 
activist Vivek Ramaswamy are among the other candidates already in the race.

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