DAVENPORT, Iowa — Quad Cities Republicans were energized in Davenport on Monday, March 13 as former President and currently-sole 2024 candidate Donald Trump gave a speech at the Adler Theatre addressing hot-button conservative issues.
After a speech and introduction by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Trump took the podium and greeted the attendance, lauding the State of Iowa and local Republican officials.
He also voiced support for keeping the Iowa caucus's "first-in-the-nation" status in the Republican primary, contrasting the Democrats' decision to move their first caucus to South Carolina.
Trump went on to enthusiastically proclaim that he had fulfilled every promise that he had ever made to Iowa.
He commended his MAGA movement's 7th year in action, claiming its strength against "sinister forces" and perceived enemies, which he named as "globalists, Marxists, crooked Democrat prosecutors all across the country, RINOS (Republicans In Name Only), Communists, anti-energy extremists, open-borders fanatics, pro-China special interests, and fake news media." While listing the last item, he pointed to the area where News 8 and other journalists stood - both from local and national outlets.
Trump also mentioned his invitation to testify in front of a New York grand jury about hush-money payments he allegedly arranged and carried out through his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen. Trump turned down the opportunity to testify.
Several times throughout the speech, he reiterated support between himself and Iowa farmers, mentioning support for policies like lower taxes, the removal of estate and death taxes, and Iowa's growing ethanol industry from the production, sale and export of E15 gasoline.
Trump cited the 2019 lifting of the ban on the summertime use of ethanol, which did significantly boost the industry to the support of farmers nationwide, though it does come with environmental and health concerns in the summertime, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The policy was later overturned by a federal court.
On the same topic, Trump claimed that Biden is using the "Green New Deal" to kill the Iowa ethanol industry. However, in April 2022, Pres. Biden waived the E15 summertime ban again to help combat rising gas prices — a move that was welcomed by Iowa farmers.
Trump voiced his desire to implement policies supporting deregulation, specifically citing his "repeal of Barack Hussein Obama's Waters of the United States rule", which he claimed gave farmers "back their rights and their property."
The Waters of the United States rule is an EPA policy that defines how the federal government is able to implement regulations that protect and clean bodies of water.
At different points throughout the speech, Trump flirted with his infamous rhetoric about the validity of the 2020 presidential election, although coy, calling it a "bad election" on numerous occasions.
Early in the speech when describing how he won the state of Iowa in the past two elections, he said, "Unfortunately, we have to do it a third time cause something happened the second time - nobody knows what that is."
Trump elaborated on this statement, saying that he received more votes than any sitting president in history, which, by itself, is true due to the 'sitting' qualifier. However, he claimed to have more than 75 million votes, which is false, and said he "doesn't think" that President Biden actually received his 81 million vote total — the most of any presidential candidate in history.
Joe Biden won the 2020 election after about 6 million more Americans chose to vote for him for president than Donald Trump in one of the most scrutinized and secure elections in U.S. history.
In one instance, Trump supported his rhetoric by saying, "any time you have mail-in ballots, the system is inherently dishonest", attributing the quote to former Democratic President Jimmy Carter. This idea dates back to a 2005 report co-published by Carter that called for increased security and study on absentee ballots, which was then successfully implemented across the country. Carter did not call for the removal of mail-in ballots.
Trump's promises for election reform included a policy for paper ballot, one-day voting. Trump said, "we used to have paper ballots," implying that they aren't in use anymore — which is false.
Trump also spoke about his foreign and economic policy, including his repeal of the Iran nuclear deal, economic deals with other countries and his ban on travelers from predominately-Muslim countries, which was swiftly rescinded by President Biden not long after his inauguration.
His economic policy was also a prime focus throughout the night, touting lowered taxes, boosts to the steel industry, boosts to agriculture and low inflation and gas prices as a result of his policymaking.
Trump promised he will "cancel every Biden policy brutalizing our farmers" within hours of inauguration, specifically saying he would attack the high price of fertilizer.
He criticized President Biden on the economy, blaming him and his Administration for current economic troubles, inflation and high prices, though this claim excludes many contributing factors, like Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and alleged corporate price gouging.
Trump also blasted other Republican leaders, including potential rival candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who he claimed strongly opposes ethanol and advocates for cuts to social security and Medicare, as well as the raising of the retirement age to 70.
He blamed other notable conservatives like Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and Mitch McConnell for the GOP's failure to take control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.
He also touted strong polling numbers against DeSantis and Biden, although results for the latter have been much closer than he indicated.
Trump's immigration policy came up in the middle of the speech, as he promised to "end the invasion of the southern border" and increase border patrols and ICE agents. He also claimed that illegal immigrants are not being deported, and claimed that other countries are emptying their prisons and mental institutions to "dump" their residents into the United States.
Some of Trump's more curious promises were that he would end the import of all essential goods from China, end the war in Ukraine 24 hours after his inauguration and he would "prevent World War III", which he said is being led to by Biden's policies.
On global conflicts, Trump claimed that Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan caused Putin to become emboldened to invade Ukraine — implying that the President is partially responsible for the war.
Hammering the President on the Afghanistan issue, Trump contrasted the state of Afghanistan between the two administrations, claiming that for a period of 18 months during his presidency, there were no U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan — a claim that has been debunked.
Trump flirted with conspiracy theories like the persecution of conservatives, China intentionally unleashing the COVID-19 virus, and the Hunter Biden laptop conspiracy, launching into a hypothetical where he said "every single crime (Hunter) ever committed is on the laptop."
Trump later turned to education, an issue that generated huge cheers from the audience. He said he would cut funding for "schools pushing critical race theory and transgenderism" — an increasingly-influential conservative idea recently seeing success in Iowa, that claims to fight the "indoctrination" of kids in public schools.
American public schools are not teaching critical race theory, nor are they convincing children to "become" transgender.
On the subject of transgender rights, Trump claimed that "'they' can mutilate your children with your permission." The former president did not clarify who he was referring to.
He also pushed opposition to transgender people participating in their gender's sport, and put on a hypothetical bit about forming his own women's basketball program with a team of men.
Trump expressed support for Iowa's controversial school choice bill, promising that he would implement the policy nationwide.
He then promised to cut all funding from schools with vaccine or mask mandates and to break up the Department of Education, giving its power to states.
He concluded the speech with many of his familiar ideas, saying that he would end "weaponized government and end 'woke'", that "2024 is the final battle" for America and that, if he is elected, "America will be a free nation once again."
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