Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he’d consider Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds as a potential running mate at an event during his two-day tour through the state. “Of course,” he said on Saturday when asked about the prospect of running with Reynolds, who is extremely popular in her state and boasts a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans. “I mean, she’s one of the top public servants in America.”
The statement is just the latest example of a growing coziness between the two governors, as DeSantis hopes to mount a strong challenge to current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump chief rival in the Iowa caucus in January and revive his flagging campaign. The campaign recently hired a former Iowa state senator as a “senior adviser on all things Iowa,” Axios reported, and has embarked on a blitz of events in the state.
As part of his Iowa-focused strategy, DeSantis is hoping to exploit an emerging rift between Trump and Reynolds, which came to a head after a New York Times report detailed the Iowa governor’s attempts at “softening the ground in Iowa for Mr. DeSantis.” To date, Reynolds has followed Iowa tradition and held off endorsing any Republican presidential candidate, but she has appeared on numerous occasions with DeSantis and frequently praised his leadership.
“I opened up the Governor position for Kim Reynolds,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on Monday, referring to his appointment of Reynold’s predecessor to his administration, which allowed Reynolds to run. “& when she fell behind, I ENDORSED her, did big Rallies, & she won.” Trump added that he would not invite Reynolds to his campaign events. Following the post, DeSantis wrote on Twitter that Reynolds is “a strong leader who knows how to ignore the chirping and get it done.”
That same day, the Trump campaign said it would skip the Family Leader summit in Des Moines, hosted by a conservative evangelical group. DeSantis called the move “a snub of Iowa conservatives.”
In response to Trump’s attacks on Reynolds, one Iowa state senator who had previously pledged his support to Trump flipped to DeSantis, Politico reported.
Reynolds has previously told The Des Moines Register that she was not interested in being included on any presidential tickets. “I love what we’re doing here in Iowa, and hopefully, I continue to make it pretty clear we’re not done,” she said in February. “So I’m going to continue to ask and encourage candidates to come to Iowa, highlight what we’re doing here in the state and look for ways that we can continue to keep our national profile rising.”