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Trump stumps for Grassley in tighter than expected Iowa Senate race but all eyes are on 2024

Trump to hold a rally Thursday in Iowa, with five days to go until Election Day and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa facing a tougher than expected challenge for re-election

With five days to go until Election Day and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley facing a tougher than expected challenge from Democratic Senate nominee and former admiral Mike Franken, the longest serving Republican in the chamber is getting a helping hand from former President Trump.

Trump, who nearly two years after his 2020 election loss to now-President Biden remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP, will headline a Thursday night rally for Grassley and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who according to the latest public opinion polls, appears to be cruising to re-election against Democratic challenger and businesswoman Deidre DeJear. 

The rally is being held in Sioux City, a heavily red northwest part of Iowa, where driving up turnout will be crucial for Grassley to make up for potential deficits in other parts of the state.

"He’s certainly going to the right part of the state, heavily Republican northwest Iowa," longtime GOP consultant David Kochel, a veteran of Iowa political campaigns, told Fox News. "In an election where it looks like Republicans are really cruising to a strong finish, you can’t take anything for granted."

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Kochel said the former president’s apparent goal "is to fire up the base and juice turnout in northwest Iowa. It’s probably good for Grassley, who I think, has underperformed a little bit with Republicans. This is good for him that Trump comes in to fire up the crowd and gets people out.

"Trump’s most effective when he goes to places where he’s really popular and able to draw people out and pump up the enthusiasm," Kochel noted.

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The former president, who has been crisscrossing the country for more than a year, has picked up the pace in recent weeks, holding a slew of rallies for Trump-backed Republican candidates running in competitive Senate, House and gubernatorial contests in the midterm elections

However, unlike his other rallies, the stop in Iowa — the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar — is sure to spark more speculation regarding a potential Trump 2024 White House run.

Since the end of his administration in January 2021, Trump has repeatedly flirted with launching another presidential campaign, and it is possible he will make an announcement in the days or weeks following the midterms.

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Fox News confirmed on Wednesday that at the staff level in Trump’s political world, discussions are underway about possible venues and dates for a potential formal announcement from the former president.

Trump came in second to Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2016 Iowa caucuses, but he easily carried the state that year’s presidential election and again in 2020. He repeatedly stopped in Iowa during his tenure in the White House and returned in October of last year when he held a large rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, where he showcased his admiration for the Hawkeye State.

However, Trump is far from the only potential 2024 Republican presidential contender to visit Iowa the past year and a half. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas are among the possible White House hopefuls who have made multiple trips to Iowa.

"We’ve had a lot of interest from a lot of people," Kochel noted.

Kochel added that for Trump it is "probably smart to come and plant a flag in the ground…It certainly won’t hurt as you look to the opening act of the 2024 primary process."

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