A parade of GOP 2024 hopefuls is descending on Iowa, disabusing suggestions that former President Donald Trump was freezing the field as Republican contenders awaited his decision on mounting a third White House bid.

More than a half-dozen Republicans with 2024 aspirations have traveled to Iowa this year or are scheduling appearances. They include Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who is also the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Those visits are being tracked by the Iowa Field Report, a conservative website run by GOP consultant Luke Martz that covers Iowa politics. They reveal a party not waiting around for Trump to decide what he wants to do before accelerating 2024 preparations.

“It’s busier than usual, and the energy level on the ground here is enthusiastic, energetic, and a mixture of hopeful and frustration with what’s going in D.C. right now,” said Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party.


Trump left office just four months ago. With the next presidential election nearly four years away, the GOP’s immediate efforts are being devoted to recapturing Congress in 2022. But Republicans mulling a 2024 campaign began hitting the road to the White House months ago, laying the foundation for the Iowa caucuses, which are expected to start the next presidential primary season for the Republicans. However, Democrats are considering shifting that honor to another, more ethnically diverse state.

Prominent Republicans parachuting into Iowa for quasi-campaign stops include Haley and Noem. Haley is headlining the Iowa Republican Party’s 2021 Lincoln Dinner, a major fundraising event just outside of Des Moines, in late June. Noem is headed to Des Moines in July to be the keynote at an event for The Family Leader, a socially conservative group that regularly attracts aspiring GOP presidential candidates.

In Iowa, the midterm elections feature a governor's race, Senate contest, and a few competitive House battles, giving Republicans with ulterior motives plenty of legitimate excuses to spend time in the state. Indeed, the bevy of races on the 2022 ballot is encouraging more subtle presidential campaigning than would have occurred otherwise.

The uncertainty around Trump is not acting as an impediment, which is hardly a surprise to veteran Republican operatives in Iowa.

"There’s no reason not to get in and start an informal exploration, even with Trump’s potential run," David Kochel said. "Any of these folks can always decide not to formally announce, but you can’t get back the time you lose if you wait around for Trump."

And what about Trump? He finished second in the 2016 caucuses behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before going on to win the general election in Iowa by a significant margin, a feat he repeated in 2020. In the process, the former president turned a once-perennial battleground state into solid red territory along the way.


“The president has a standing invitation here,” Kaufmann said.