The Iowa Republican Party has approved a motion pledging neutrality in the 2024 caucuses as several White House contenders mull joining former President Donald Trump in the race for the GOP nomination.
The motion is strict. Under its guidelines, revealed Saturday, virtually no one associated with the Iowa GOP can endorse or advise a Republican presidential candidate. The Democratic Party recently jettisoned Iowa from its group of early primary states. But the Republican Party is retaining the Hawkeye State as host of the first contest on its presidential nominating calendar.
“No member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee, its Officers, its Staff, or RNC Members shall publicly endorse a U.S. Presidential Candidate during the 2024 Iowa Caucuses,” according to the motion passed by the Iowa Republican Party. As noted, the ban applies to the state’s three voting members of the Republican National Committee.
Some political observers might speculate that the neutrality motion is designed to avoid accusations of favoritism toward Trump and maintain openness to the range of candidates considering a 2024 presidential bid. Trump won Iowa in 2016 and 2020, winning big in each election, first over Democrat Hillary Clinton and then over now-President Joe Biden. The former president remains popular in the state among grassroots conservatives.
But Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said the enforced neutrality of the state party in the quadrennial presidential caucuses was a rule he championed in the wake of the 2012 contest. That year, the Iowa GOP was accused of tacitly supporting Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning former Texas congressman.
“We did the same thing in 2016 when I was chair,” Kaufmann said in a text message exchange with the Washington Examiner. “This is a reaction to the debacle in 2012 when the state party, at that time controlled by Ron Paul forces, embarrassed us nationally by being blatantly biased.”
Iowa was a favorite stop on the campaign trail throughout 2021 and 2022, with Republicans interested in running for president making it a point to visit the state repeatedly to stump for candidates running for local, state, and federal office. Among them were former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and others.