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Donald Trump greeted with cheers and chants in Ames at Iowa vs. Iowa State football game

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Donald Trump greeted with cheers and chants in Ames at Iowa vs. Iowa State football game

Brianne Pfannenstiel

Des Moines RegisterView Comments

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AMES, Iowa — A large group of excited Cyclone and Hawkeye fans crowded onto a terrace at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, briefly united in chanting the same name.

“Trump! Trump! Trump!” they cheered — waiting for the former president to emerge from a private suite where he watched the annual in-state rivalry game that pits the University of Iowa and Iowa State University against each other.

The political gamesmanship briefly overshadowed the football game playing out on the field below as a mob of supporters peered around the glass windows, shouting for Trump’s attention and erupting into applause when they caught sight of him.

Trump, who leads the Republican primary field four months ahead of the 2024 Iowa caucuses, hobnobbed with influential Republican donor and casino magnate Gary Kirke inside the suite before emerging to greet the fans who yelled his name and held their cell phone cameras aloft as he departed the stadium.

Former President Donald Trump holds a spatula with a hamburger on it as he works the grill during a stop at the Alpha Gamma Rho, agricultural fraternity, at Iowa State University before an NCAA college football game between Iowa State and Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

“It’s cool that he came to this game,” said Brad Lewis, a Dubuque resident and Hawkeye fan who watched the chaotic scene unfold from a slight distance. He said that he currently favors Trump in the caucuses.

“I’m a financial guy, and when he was president there was a lot of positives and a lot of good things going on,” he said. “And so, to me, that’s important. People love him or hate him, but you know, he’s done a lot of good things for the country.”

Some attendees did boo and shout obscenities as Trump passed, but he drew far more eager and excited onlookers who appeared unbothered that he faces criminal charges in four separate cases.

In a nearby section of open seats, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — a top Trump rival — watched the game with Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and snapped photos with U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

In contrast, a source familiar with the arrangements said that Reynolds did not interact with Trump “in any way” Saturday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks with supporters at an Iowa State Wrestling tailgate before the Cy-Hawk football game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, September 9, 2023 in Ames.

Though Reynolds has previously said she would not endorse any candidate ahead of the Jan. 15 caucuses, she has recently begun leaving open the possibility in interviews that she could do so. And her campaign trail appearances have been even more closely scrutinized as a result.

According to a mid-August Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll, Trump is the favorite of 42% of likely Republican caucusgoers. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis follows with 19%, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott is at 9%.https://e.infogram.com/_/Hf13RfXwpRT8Evzmrtjo?src=embed#async_embed

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