Trump's victory in the 2024 election is demonstrated by the lack of opposition at the Iowa dinner

At the Lincoln Dinner in Iowa, a dozen of Donald Trump's Republican rivals spoke at a dinner, with only one challenging the former president head-on. The event was accompanied by a clip of the country song Only In America, and Trump's lyrics describing two alternative paths that could await someone in the US seemed particularly poignant. The 45th President of the United States didn't seem to mind, as he insists he is being unfairly targeted for purely political reasons. He told the crowd of 1,200 Republican supporters at the dinner that he would not have been prosecuted if he was not running for the White House again and he would not have been prosecuted if he was not winning. Most of the candidates chose to ignore Thursday evening's news that Trump had been charged with three more counts in the classified documents investigation. They declined to take the opportunity to challenge the clear frontrunner in the contest at all. One lesser known contender, Will Hurd, took a shot, claiming Donald Trump was not running to make America great again. He claimed that Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 or 2020. Stacey Taiber, one of many Republican voters wearing Trump stickers, told me she did not believe any of the charges against Mr. Trump. Her husband, Dan, said it was President Biden and his son Hunter who should be facing criminal trials. He and many others in the ballroom repeated unproven allegations about Hunter's business dealings and claims of foreign influence (which the White House has dismissed but Republicans in Congress are investigating). There was no fun to be had watching the different candidates interacting with each other at the dinner. Maybe there will be more fireworks when the candidates come face to face at the first Republican debate on 23 August - although Mr. Trump has suggested he might skip it because he is so far ahead in the polls. Chris Sununu, the Republican governor of New Hampshire, is no fan of the former president but recently ruled himself out of running against him in 2024. He told me that for the other candidates to compete with Mr. Trump, it is not about what they say - because there are not significant policy differences - it is about how they perform. Vivek Ramaswamy, the millennial entrepreneur and political novice, showed that he has the potential to break out from the crowded field of candidates currently polling in single digits. After a barnstorming performance, he got one of the few standing ovations - along with Mr. Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the candidate currently sitting in second place in most surveys. Outside the venue, there was a stall selling the usual badges, T-shirts, and baseball caps. Thirteen candidates appeared on stage (Chris Christie was the only official contender not to attend), but only four of them had their names on the merchandise.


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