Trump crushes rivals in Iowa; Ramaswamy drops out to endorse him

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump stamped his authority on the Republican Party nomination process for the 2024 Presidential election with a crushing win in Iowa caucuses on Monday. The former President’s annihilation of party rivals by more than 30 points included a rout of two Indian-American opponents Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, the latter immediately dropping out of the race to endorse Trump.
Trump supporters braved frigid sub-zero temperatures and icy winds to turn up in strength and give him 51 percent of votes, leaving his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on 21 per cent, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on 19 per cent. Vivek Ramaswamy finished fourth on 8 per cent.
Although Iowa accounts for just 1.6 per cent of the total delegates at stake, as the first state to kick off the nomination race, it provides the momentum in a long process that now moves on to New Hampshire next week. Trump seized on the win to urge the remaining aspirants to drop out to allow him to focus on defeating Biden, who is expected to be the Democratic nominee, in the November face-off for the White House.
Instead of his trademark gloating and smackdown of opponents following his crushing win, Trump congratulated them for doing “very well” and said the “big night is going to be in November when we take back our country.”
“We want to come together. Whether it’s Republican or Democrat, liberal, conservative, it would be so nice if we could come together and straighten out the world and straighten out the problems and straighten out all of the death and destruction that we’re witnessing,” Trump told supporters in an expansive outreach following his easy win.
“I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good time together. I think they both actually did very well. I also want to congratulate Vivek because he did one hell of a job. He came from zero … that’s an amazing job,” he added, calling them “very smart people, very capable people.”
Ramaswamy phoned Trump following the results to congratulate him and offer his endorsement, after saying, “As of this moment we are going to suspend this presidential campaign…there is no path for me to be the next president absent things we don’t want to see in this country.”
While he brawled with other nomination rivals, notably Nikki Haley, Ramaswamy was more deferential towards Trump during the campaign, leaving the door open for being drafted as his running mate.
The Iowa turnout of 115,000 voters is only about a sixth of the state’s 700,000 registered Republican voters ( of the state’s 2 million registered voters of both parties plus independents). But it indicated a vehement surge of support for Trump in the face of the many legal cases against him. Early analysis of the voting showed Trump more than doubled his share of votes from 2016, when he finished second to Ted Cruz with 24 per cent of votes.
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