The 2022 Iowa State Fair didn’t have political fireworks, it had an unbalanced soapbox and a stormy visit from Mike Pence

“We had a little swim out there!” Former Vice President Mike Pence told Friends of the Fair Friday at the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Pence and fellow Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley took cover from a storm that quickly developed and drenched the fairgrounds.

“I’m in Iowa for one reason and one reason only,” Pence told a group of reporters as storm clouds began to roll in over Midway. “And that’s what Iowa and America need six more years of Sen. Chuck Grassley.”

A visit to the Iowa State Fairgrounds has long been a tradition for politicians seeking a run for the White House, but there wasn’t much activity during the 11 days of the 2022 state fair.

Former Vice President Mike Pence visited the Iowa State Fair on Friday to campaign with Sen. Grassley, who is running for re-election. Pence spoke briefly to reporters before the storms moved into the fairgrounds. They then strolled through the lobby and shared a “Pig in a Cup Picnic.” #jacaucus

— Clay Masters (@Clay_Masters) August 20, 2022

Trump’s 2024 decision created a chilling effect on presidential hopefuls coming to the show

Former President Donald Trump’s possible run in 2024 hasn’t stopped other Republicans from making trips to the state this year. With Trump maintaining strong support from his party in Iowa, these potential candidates are making it clear in their comments that they are here to help local candidates raise funds.

Pence was greeted with cheers and applause, and a few boos, as he walked around the room Friday. Janet Gastineau of Urbandale waited to shake his hand and told IPR that the Republican Party should do away with Donald Trump.

“I love the way he handled things on Jan. 6,” Gastineau said. “I wasn’t willing to take the extra step that Trump wanted me to take for that election.”

Pence also spent the weekend at other fundraisers in the state for Sen. Grassley. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also made a less flashy appearance, taking his turn flipping pork chops with Gov. Kim Reynolds at the fair. Texas Sen. and 2016 caucus winner Ted Cruz spoke at a Grassley fundraiser last week away from the Des Moines Fairgrounds.

The start of the fair coincided with an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser focused on Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, where RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel was the featured speaker. The Democratic National Committee has been discussing reworking its primary schedule all year and is expected to announce changes after the midterm elections.

Republicans largely skipped the political soapbox of the Des Moines Register this year

The Des Moines Register’s political soapbox is a popular place for politicians to pitch to voters who are not politically engaged. It’s not that big of a draw during half term years. Iowa’s top elected Republicans, like Sen. Grassley and Gov. Reynolds, did not take turns on the soapbox this year while the three statewide elected Democrats did. Republicans seeking to unseat Democrats took a turn on the stage.

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, touted his senior leadership team of one Democrat, one Republican and one independent.

“I don’t want a conversation where everyone is looking at something from the same angle trying to decide what it is,” Sand said during his time on the soapbox. “I want a conversation where people have different perspectives that they share with me so that we can make sure that we’re looking at something from all angles.”

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3rd District Rep. Cindy Axne waves to voters as she takes the stage Wednesday at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.

Lucius Pham

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— Rob Sand at the 2022 State Fair

State Auditor Rob Sand speaks at the 2022 State Fair

Michael Leland

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Christina Bohannan speaks on the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox.

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Republican congressional candidate Zach Nunn has criticized Biden’s Inflation Relief Act as ineffective in easing inflationary pressures for Iowans.

Natalie Krebs

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Deidre DeJear spoke on the first Saturday of the state fair.

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Brenna Bird is running for Iowa Republican attorney general against Democrat Tom Miller.

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The Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner is the Democratic nominee for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

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Joel Miller, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, spoke on the first Saturday of the state fair.

Lucius Pham

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Ryan Melton speaks to a small crowd at the Iowa State Fair on Monday.

Kendall Crawford

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– Tom Miller at the Iowa State Fair on August 17, 2022

Lucius Pham

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Michael Leland

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Liz Mathis at the Iowa State Fair

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State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald speaks on opening day of the state fair.

Katarina Sostaric

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is the only Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation and promoted the Inflation Reduction Act to voters the day after President Joe Biden signed it into law.

Axne is the only member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to vote for the Inflation Reduction Act.

You wouldn’t know that Governor Reynolds has a Democratic opponent in November

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ social media accounts featured plenty of photos of her at the state fair, but she didn’t use the Des Moines Register’s soapbox as an opportunity to contrast herself with her Democratic opponent Deidre DeJear. Reynolds has a huge fundraising lead, and the latest Iowa poll shows her with a 17-point lead.

Reynolds signaled his criticism of the Biden administration during remarks at the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner before participating in the state fair’s inaugural parade.

“This administration has unleashed (the Justice Department and) the FBI on parents, taxpayers, gun owners and a former president of the United States of America,” Reynolds said at the Lincoln Day fundraiser on opening day of the fair. . “We’re at an all-time low, folks. Elections matter.”

DeJear used his time on the soapbox to say Reynolds is starving the education and health care systems while more than a billion dollars sits in a trust fund.

IPR’s Katarina Sostaric, Grant Gerlock and Michael Leland contributed to this report

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