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Iowa Republican convention delegates on fire for second term for President Donald Trump

In this file photo, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears on stage with vice presidential choice Mike Pen
In this file photo, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears on stage with vice presidential choice Mike Pence on the third day of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 20, 2016. This year’s convention is this week. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Iowa Republicans are going into their national convention with a “fire on board this Trump train,” according to a longtime activist who is among the state party’s six in-person delegates in Charlotte, N.C.

“I have not seen this type of enthusiasm in quite some time,” Republican Party of Iowa national committeewoman Tamara Scott said Sunday on a call from Charlotte, where the convention will kick off Monday.

Unlike 2012, when supporters of nominee Mitt Romney and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul had their differences, and in 2016, when not everyone had fully committed to Donald Trump, there is unity this year.

Convention-goers, including some Democrats, Scott said, “want the economy back. They want their jobs back. They want the pay raise raises that they had with the wage increases he created. They want the tax deductions that he made better for their families.”

“So when you understand what we had, remember what Iowa, what America had come through and how he helped us make America great again, we understand he’s the only one who can help us make America great again twice,” Scott said.

That doesn’t mean that Republicans are in lockstep on every issue, “but the one thing that we are, is behind this president,” said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann.

What’s different about the convention are the safety precautions in place, Kaufmann and other delegates in Charlotte said.

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“I feel like we’re in the safest place on in the country right now, not just because of the Secret Service, but I’ve had two COVID tests. I have my temperature taken every single day. I can’t go anywhere without my armband showing that everything is healthy,” Kaufmann said.

“All kidding aside, I mean, we are following the CDC guidelines strictly.”

“It’s not fun,” added David Barker from Iowa City, “but it’s a real commitment to safety. Our committee meetings are in enormous rooms with not a lot of people in them separated by quite a bit and hand sanitizer everywhere.”

Iowa has 40 national convention delegates, but because of COVID-19, each state is allowed to send six people. In addition to Kaufmann, Scott and Barker, the Iowa delegates are Anthony Marlowe, Cheryl Weisheit and national committeeman Steve Scheffler.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will speak to the convention Tuesday and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst will address the delegates Wednesday. Both will deliver their remarks from Iowa.

With the enthusiasm and unity he’s seeing, Kaufmann doesn’t expect any drama except for how long it will take each state delegation “to say how wonderful Donald Trump is.”

He expects the convention to present a more positive message than the Democratic National Committee presented voters last week.

“You cannot win an election for the most powerful human being in the world by being against something, let alone not even a policy, but being against a personality,” Kaufmann said about the Democrats’ “not Trump” message.

“I would argue that even the people that may not be huge fans of the president’s personality, want the alternative to be for something,” he said.

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Kaufmann characterized Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden as “a voice box for AOC, and others on the progressive left,” a reference to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

The Trump-Biden races is an “existential election” between the president and “a movement toward socialism,” Kaufmann said.

One other difference Kaufmann sees in Charlotte is how welcoming the party is of Iowans and the role Iowa plays in the nomination process.

Unlike the Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who called for an end to caucuses, “I see absolutely no signs whatsoever, that everybody doesn’t hold the opinion of our president, which is things should start in Iowa and there’s no better grassroots way to do that than through holding a caucus,” Kaufmann said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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