‘I don’t care what he says,’ Gov. Reynolds says about Trump’s attacks after she endorsed DeSantis instead

She doesn’t believe Trump can win again
Iowa Gov. Reynolds brushed off criticism from former president Trump that she is “disloyal” and pledged to work to make Ron DeSantis, the GOP nominee instead.
Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 10:09 AM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds brushed off criticism from former president Donald Trump that she is “disloyal” and pledged to work to make Trump’s challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Republican Party’s nominee instead.

“You know, he was a great president,” Reynolds said during an interview in her residence at Terrace Hill in Des Moines Tuesday morning. “I supported him. I worked with him. I appreciate what he did but it’s a different time.”

Monday night, Reynolds endorsed DeSantis during his campaign event in Des Moines. “The more I looked at Ron’s record, it just really became clear to me that he is the right person that I believe can step in on day one and execute.”

Reynolds repeatedly praised DeSantis’ ability to pass legislation in his state that she has also passed in Iowa. Those include requiring transgender student athletes to compete according to their gender assigned at birth, removing books from public schools that include material that some parents find objectionable and banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in most cases.

“If he does for this country what he’s done for Florida in four years, we will be okay,” Reynolds said, “And not only will he reverse the madness, but he, I believe, will catapult us to the next level. And I’m very excited about that.”

Reynolds maintains that DeSantis is the candidate that gives her party the best chance to win the general election in 2024 against President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and that Trump can’t do that. She said of DeSantis, “He just moves forward. He’s focused. He’s disciplined. He’s effective. He’s bold.”

Most polls -- a year before the 2024 general election -- don’t show numbers that back up Reynolds’ beliefs that DeSantis is the strongest Biden challenger.

RealClearPolitics average of national polls show that Trump fares better vs. Biden compared to DeSantis. Although, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is the best performing candidate when matched up against Biden.

See those polls here.

The relationship between Reynolds and Trump soured this summer. Reynolds stopped going out of her way to publicly defend Trump on social media against the numerous criminal and civil investigations into his past.

Before that happened, Reynolds had been saying for months that she planned to remain neutral before the Iowa Caucuses as the state’s governors have done for nearly four decades as a way to encourage all candidates to campaign in the state.

But Trump demanded that Reynolds endorse him, pointing out that he campaigned alongside her during the 2018 race for governor against Democratic businessman Fred Hubbell. Trump claimed that his support was the reason that Reynolds won and he also falsely claimed on the social media site, Truth Social, “I then helped her when she was substantially down and losing to the Democrat Candidate.”

All public polls in the final months of the 2018 campaign showed Reynolds either leading Hubbell or essentially within the margin of error.

Trump also claimed that Reynolds’ endorsement of DeSantis would “be the end of her political career in that MAGA would never support her again.” And he added, “Two extremely disloyal people getting together is, however, a very beautiful thing to watch. They can now remain loyal to each other because nobody else wants them!!!”

Reynolds said that she isn’t fazed by Trump’s attacks. “He doesn’t define who I am. I don’t care what he says.”

She also said DeSantis, unlike Trump, is campaigning across the state, as are the other Trump challengers. And Reynolds said the race isn’t about Trump; it’s about the future of the country. “It’s not about him. It’s not about loyalty. Nobody’s entitled to this position. He (Trump) needs to be out here on the ground making his pitch to Iowans. Ron’s going to all 99 counties. The other candidates have been all over this state. They’ve put time in Iowa. They’ve done what they needed to do,” Reynolds said, “You don’t get to just stay home and expect that everybody falls in line things change.”

The governor wouldn’t say exactly when she decided to endorse DeSantis. She would only say it was “recently.” She did say that once she reached that point, she felt that it was only fair to go public with it, so that DeSantis could potentially benefit and Iowans, along with the other candidates, would know where she stands.