Nikki Haley is swinging through Iowa this week fresh off announcing her presidential campaign. Her fellow South Carolinian Republican, Sen. Tim Scott, will also be here as he decides his political future. And former Vice President Mike Pence was just in the state courting influential evangelical Christian activists.
After a slow start, Republican presidential prospects are streaming into the leadoff presidential caucus state. Notably absent from the lineup, at least for now, is former President Donald Trump.
Few of the White House hopefuls face the lofty expectations in Iowa that Trump does. He finished a competitive second to devout social conservative Ted Cruz in 2016, and went on to carry the state twice, by healthy margins, as the Republican presidential nominee in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
“It is genuinely impossible for this guy to try to manage these expectations. They are enormous. They are self-made,” said Luke Martz, a veteran Iowa Republican strategist who helped lead Mitt Romney's 2012 Iowa caucus campaign. “I don't see how anyone who is saying ‘I’m the guy' can come in and even get even a second-place finish.”