GOP caucuses in Iowa's sparsely populated northwest are crucial for Trump and DeSantis.

In Rock Rapids, Iowa's Republican caucuses are contested on a wind-swept plain with millions of pigs.White wind turbines dot northwest Iowa's bleak high plains. Squatty pig farms with terrible scents ruin the scenery.

This is conservative Iowa's evangelical heart. Though scattered throughout dozens of frigid counties, their tens of thousands of GOP voters are decisive. Both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis court influential Christians, making northwest Iowa a microcosm of Monday's caucuses.

Winter weather caused Trump to cancel two regional rallies this weekend. On Thursday, DeSantis spent hours courting voters in 2,600-person Rock Rapids before going to four-times-larger Le Mars.Despite Republican candidates in Iowa not talking about abortion rights due to concerns that Democrats would win, many northwest Iowa residents and pastors say it is still their top priority.

The Rev. John Vermeer of Rock Rapids, one of several conservative Reformed pastors brought to the region by Dutch immigrants more than 150 years ago, said, “Speaking for my parishioners, a lot of them look back at Trump and say, among recent presidents, he’s done more for the pro-life“There’s another side that’s disappointed with what seems like pragmatism,” Vermeer said. Locals know Gov. DeSantis’ record.”

Despite January winds carrying Trump flags and former president posters on fence rows, DeSantis is fighting him. Recently interviewed people said DeSantis banned six-week abortions in Florida. A national abortion ban would hurt Republicans politically, and a six-week restriction is too harsh, according to Trump.DeSantis wants to mimic caucus winners.

Texas social conservative Ted Cruz beat Trump in northwest Iowa in 2016. After Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2008 GOP caucus win, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum earned an areawide 2012 social conservative victory.

Trump has visited eastern Iowa's main cities more than his opponents, but not ignored it. Last week, Trump visited Sioux Center, the county seat, where he received 82% of the 2020 vote. For a stunning second-place finish in Iowa, Nikki Haley has campaigned in northwest Iowa less often and to smaller groups. Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has traversed the region, but he has fewer following than DeSantis or Trump.

Randy Vande Berg, who visited DeSantis in Rock Rapids, praised Trump for appointing the 2022 Supreme Court judges who rejected Roe v. Wade. Trump supporters who know his three marriages make him an unusual choice for devout Christians often recall abortion opponents' long-sought goal.“The record reveals all. I dismiss his statements. A 67-year-old insurance agent, Vande Berg, blamed him for overturning Roe

Meanwhile, the Civil War argument underlines other facts about the GOP's coalition, which is now rooted on the South rather than the North where it was formed. Democrats and Republicans “have essentially stolen the garb of the other party from the 19th century,” Foner added. “I think, in fact, it's very possible to acknowledge the country's sins, even its atrocities, and its noble ideals and promises,” Kabaservice added.

DeSantis and Trump push lists of politically prominent northwest Iowa pastors backing them, but some Trump followers were dissatisfied in his statements blaming Republican underperformance in the 2022 midterms on anti-abortion GOP politicians. It's sad. Life exists. Republican bank employee Heidi Kock, 38, will endorse DeSantis in Monday's caucuses. I know Gov. DeSantis' heart. His track record supports it.

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