Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is endorsing DeSantis, giving him much needed support
Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed Ron DeSantis Monday night at a rally in downtown Des Moines, giving the Florida governor’s presidential campaign a boost he hopes will narrow the polling deficit in the state his campaign has relied on.
“I am so proud to stand here tonight and give him my full support and endorsement as the president of the United States of America,” Reynolds said on stage before introducing DeSantis, whom she praised for his kindness and leadership, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. .
The endorsement — a rarity for an Iowa governor — was in doubt, as DeSantis and Reynolds are friends and have spoken glowingly of each other in public, but even Reynolds acknowledged Monday that the decision was difficult.
“I thought long and hard about making this decision, about telling the people of Iowa and telling you where I stand,” she said, saying she enjoyed welcoming and speaking with all the presidential candidates who visited Iowa.
“We owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude,” she said.
“But I also believe that as a mother, as a grandmother, and as an American, I could not and cannot sit on the sidelines any longer,” she added. “We are living in unprecedented times. There is a lot at stake. Our country is in trouble. The world is a powder keg. And I’m here to tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Ron DeSantis is the person we need to lead this country.”
DeSantis, who greeted Reynolds with a hug when he took the stage, praised the Iowa governor as “one of the greatest governors in the United States” with a “great head on her shoulders.”
“When I was struggling a lot, when we were going through COVID-19, I think Kim and I are the only two governors in America who forced all of our schools to be open for classroom instruction,” he said.
The timing of the endorsement — news of which broke Sunday morning with reports that it would happen the following night — is appropriate for DeSantis, who has endured a week of tough news: An NBC/Des Moines Register poll in Iowa showed him falling to a tie for second with Nikki Haley polled in Iowa released last week, and saw a wave of defections in favor of former President Donald Trump by lawmakers in his state.
The endorsement also gives DeSantis something new to promote on the Republican debate stage Wednesday night in Miami.
And in Iowa, there are signs that Reynolds’ support could boost DeSantis.
Norman Uchida, 73, a retired utility worker who attended Monday’s rally, said it could have a “huge impact” and added that the governor is “very popular” among Iowa Republicans.
Meanwhile, Phil Cronin, a 68-year-old Realtor from Johnston who attended a recent DeSantis event but told ABC News there he was undecided, said in a text message Monday: “I think a lot of [Reynolds] And support.”
“Maybe it will help me narrow the field a little.”
Cody Hoffert, the former co-chairman of the Iowa Republican Party who endorsed DeSantis, called Reynolds’ endorsement a “big deal” and called their alignment a “natural fit.”
However, if the polls are any indication, winning Iowa will be a huge task for DeSantis, who trails Trump in the state by about 30 points, according to a FiveThirtyEight polling average.
DeSantis dismissed the polls as he methodically hopped across Iowa, hoping frequent stops at small-town patrons would build a pool of support that wouldn’t reveal itself until the results came in on caucus night.
On stage Monday night, Reynolds said Casey DeSantis’ personal touch helped her decide to endorse: The Florida first lady, who battled breast cancer two years ago, visited Reynolds and her husband, Kevin, after he was diagnosed with cancer himself this fall.
“Casey, I want you to know how important this is to both of us,” she said.
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com