• Activist Vander Plaats said he was impressed with what DeSantis accomplished in Florida
  • DeSantis met with some of Iowa's top GOP names, including Gov. Kim Reynolds
  • Two Iowan lawmakers previously vouched for a potential DeSantis 2024 campaign

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is receiving support from the state that helped Donald Trump in 2020, after the former took advantage of a canceled Trump rally in Iowa over the weekend.

An influential activist in the Republican circle and some Iowan GOP supporters have heaped praise on DeSantis' weekend move.

"Frankly, I believe America is hungry for that type of leadership," conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats told Semafor on Sunday. He said he was impressed with how DeSantis has led Florida over the years, adding that there have been discussions about how the governor's achievements can reverberate at the national level.

DeSantis made an appearance at Sioux Center in Iowa on Saturday, stating that "integrity" and "truth" should be restored in the country, CNN reported.

During the 2020 election, Sioux County gave Trump 82% of the total vote, with most conservatives centered in the area and evangelical influences running deep in the city's politics.

A DeSantis ally wrote in a text to Semafor that they had "no idea" why Trump canceled his Iowa rally, but "even if that cancellation was valid, regardless it made Ron look strong."

"Unfortunately, due to the Tornado Warnings in Des Moines, we are forced to cancel today's outdoor Rally at the Lauridsen Amphitheater. Stay tuned, we will reschedule soon. Be safe out there!" Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, hours before his supposed appearance in the state.

Semafor noted DeSantis' surprise visit at a BBQ joint just down the road from the Lauridsen Amphitheater was deemed as a troll against the former U.S. president.

"Saturday was the first time Mr. DeSantis has taken advantage of an opportunity to show up Mr. Trump over a perceived misstep," wrote Maggie Habberman of The New York Times.

Trump has sought to portray DeSantis as a socially awkward politician. However, during his weekend trip to Iowa, he spent half an hour socializing with people, Politico reported.

DeSantis also had the opportunity to spend time with some of Iowa's top GOP politicians, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, Rep. Randy Feenstra, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Sen. Joni Ernst.

Rick Lemmon, of Sioux City, told Politico that after DeSantis' Iowa trip, "I'm leaning a little more towards him," saying he liked the Florida governor's stance on the border issue and family. "I Think Trump's got some baggage that might not make him more victorious in the end. Where DeSantis doesn't have that issue."

Other Iowans have also come forward, expressing support for the Florida leader.

Ralph Klemme, who was a former state representative, told NBC News that he likes what DeSantis "did in Florida and what he stands for." Klemme said he was a Trump supporter, but this time, he was ready to try someone else.

Arlene Lang echoed Klemme's sentiments, saying maybe DeSantis can build on what Trump did for the country.

DeSantis wrapped up his Iowa trip with a GOP fundraiser in Cedar Rapids.

"If we make this election about a referendum on Joe Biden and his failed policies, and we provide a positive alternative to take America in a new direction, I think Republicans will win across the board," he said in his speech.

The Florida governor has yet to officially announce a 2024 presidential bid, but a source with knowledge of DeSantis' plans recently revealed that the former military officer was looking to announce his presidential campaign later this month, which could coincide with Memorial Day on May 29.

In a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, DeSantis remains at the back of Trump, with 50% of respondents opting for the business mogul and 36% choosing the Florida governor.

Another May poll found that 43% of Republican respondents preferred Trump, while 20% said they preferred DeSantis.

Despite the recent numbers showing that DeSantis is still a long way from Trump's popularity among Republican voters, the younger politician is gaining some support from the state that has consistently delivered for the former president in the past years.

Senate President Amy Sinclair and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, two high-profile Iowa politicians, have previously endorsed a potential DeSantis 2024 run.

"He's proven that he can get reelected and can continue to do that work even in the face of opposition. And I can't think of a better person to serve as our president and really, honestly move America forward," Sinclair told the Des Moines Register last week.

Windschitl, for his part, told the outlet that the country needs a leader "that's accountable to the people" and someone who has "proven in their state that they can do this job."

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak at midterm election rallies
Veteran GOP Trump had to cancel his Iowa rally due to a tornado threat, but younger DeSantis cared less for the weather and shook hands with Iowans over the weekend. Reuters