Government

Eric Branstad says Trump's Iowa operation 'triple' that of 2016

Eric Branstad, senior adviser for the Trump 2020 re-election campaign in Iowa and the son of U.S. Ambassador to China an
Eric Branstad, senior adviser for the Trump 2020 re-election campaign in Iowa and the son of U.S. Ambassador to China and former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, talks with reporters Nov. 2, 2019, at Republican Party of Iowa headquarters in Des Moines. (Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

DES MOINES — Every U.S. president in his lifetime — Republican or Democrat — has had an ‘it” factor, according to Eric Branstad, son of the former Iowa governor and an Iowa operative for the Trump campaign.

While Branstad said he can’t describe “it,” he says Republican President Donald Trump has “it” — and Democratic challenger Joe Biden does not.

That, in part, is why Branstad said he is confident Trump will once again win Iowa on his way to another four-year term in the White House.

“To be honest, I’ve never been more confident,” Branstad, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign in Iowa, said Wednesday during an interview in Des Moines. “(But) not cocky.”

The most recent public polling on the presidential race in Iowa shows a close race in a state that Trump won in 2016 by nearly 10 points. Pollster Selzer & Company, with the Des Moines Register and Public Policy Polling, in early June showed Trump leading Biden in the state by less than 2 points, within the polls’ margins of error.

“I’m not at all concerned. The polls are what they are,” said Branstad, son of former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “But I think at the end of the day, what we saw was Trump changed the (electoral) map.”

To that end, Branstad said he does not subscribe to the theory that if Trump faces a competitive race in a state he won so handily four years ago, he will lose the national election because he is in trouble in other states he won by slimmer margins.

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“I think that’s laughable,” Branstad said, noting Trump in 2016 became just the second Republican presidential candidate to win Iowa in the past eight general elections. “We’ve always been a purple state. It always takes working hard and having the right candidate, having the right message, and putting those things together.”

Branstad extolled the expansion of the Trump campaign’s and Republican Party’s operations in Iowa. While a party spokeswoman said the party did not make staffing numbers public, Branstad described the operation as “triple” what it was in 2016.

The Republican Party said it had made more than 1 million voter contacts this year as it had built on a campaign organization that essentially never left after the 2016 elections.

“I’m really impressed with the team we’ve put together,” Branstad said. “We have built the best team with the best technology. ... We are ready to win big-league, and we’re looking to November more unified (as Republicans) than ever before, and we are really excited to get the message out to the voters.”

The Biden campaign’s Iowa State director, Lauren Dillon, suggested in a statement that Iowa will flip back to the Democratic candidate in the November election.

“After inheriting and then decimating a robust farm economy and botching our national pandemic response, Donald Trump’s support is quickly unraveling in Iowa,” Dillon said in a statement provided by the Biden campaign. “Voters of all political stripes are hungry for leadership that can unite instead of divide us and help build back our economy better than it was before. That’s Joe Biden.”

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