Iowa Republicans are looking ahead to President Trump running for re-election and competing in the Iowa Caucuses in 2020, and a leading Iowa GOP operative predicts the party will rewrite their rules so members of the state GOP governing board can endorse him.
In 2016, central committee members remained neutral, and some Republicans believe that should be the case again in 2020.
Steve Scheffler who represents Iowa on the Republican National Committee disagrees.
He says anyone can come to Iowa and run.
“But I fully expect the Republican Party -- the whole state central committee and the Committeeman and the Committeewoman -- to be fully behind our president,” Scheffler said in a taping of Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press program. “Quite frankly, if Iowa wants to maintain our first-in-the-nation caucus status, we can't have people wandering off and supporting other fringe candidates.”
"That's a big mistake and it could cost us the caucuses,” countered GOP lobbyist Doug Gross.
Gross is a former Chief of Staff to Gov. Branstad and a GOP candidate for governor in 2002.
“If they want to run and Iowa's first they have to be welcome to Iowa so they can run,” Gross said. "We should never be in a situation where we don't invite people into our borders to talk about the future of our party and the future of our country because that's the nature of Iowa.”
A Republican Party of Iowa spokesman clarified that the party itself - the Chairman, Co-Chair, staff and party infrastructure - would remain neutral under what Scheffler discussed.
“The Republican Party of Iowa takes the first in the nation privilege seriously, and to that end would not spend money or take sides in a caucus it was charged with running impartially," said spokesman Carlos Cruz in a statement.
In 1992 Pat Buchanan challenged President Bush in his re-election bid. That year, votes were not even counted in the Republican caucuses.
“I’m almost positive that people’s votes will be counted,” Scheffler said, referring to the 2020 caucuses.
A former Iowa GOP chairman A. J. Spiker weighed in on Twitter.
“Was Governor Ronald Reagan fringe when he challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford for the GOP nomination in 1976?” Spiker asked.
Trump held a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids this past June.