OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A video of former President Donald Trump rocketed across the internet and social media platforms Monday evening as votes were beginning to be tallied following the nation’s first GOP primary in Iowa.
In it, Trump can be seen walking down a set of stairs before coming up towards a camera and addressing reporters who were gathered.
“Great night and fantastic place,” Trump said about Iowa. “We’ve won it twice, as you know, the last two elections, and I think we’re gonna have a fantastic night tonight.
“The people are fantastic, and I’ve never seen spirit like they have — countrywide, but in Iowa, I’ve never seen spirit like this, thank you,” Trump said, turning away from the camera as reporters shouted questions at him.
— Donald J. Trump Posts From His Truth Social (@TrumpDailyPosts) January 16, 2024
Trump went on to win the Iowa caucus with more than 51% of the vote, ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with about 21.2 percent and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley with 19.1 percent.
Trump addressed his two closest rivals’ performances after the race was called.
“I really think this is time now for everybody to come together, whether it is Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative. It would be so nice if we could come together and straighten out the world and straighten out the problems and all of the death and destruction that we’re witnessing that has practically never been seen,” he said. “I want to make that a big part of our message. We’re going to come together.
“I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good time together,” Trump told supporters. “They had a good time together, and I think they both actually did very well. We don’t even know what the outcome of second place is.”
“I also want to congratulate Vivek because he did a hell of a job. He came from zero, and he’s got a big percent, probably almost eight percent, and that is an amazing job,” Trump said. “Very smart people, very capable people.”
The DeSantis campaign ripped into the media Monday evening after many outlets predicted former President Donald Trump would win the Iowa caucus shortly after polls closed.
The campaign alleged “election interference” after outlets quickly called the race for Trump, who finished with some 51 percent of the vote over DeSantis’ 21.2 percent and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s 19.1 percent, according to The Associated Press.
“Absolutely outrageous that the media would participate in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote. The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet,” DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said on X.
The AP called the race around 8:31 p.m. EDT. “Outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News made the same projection around the same time. Decision Desk HQ also called the race for Trump just before 9 p.m. Eastern,” The Hill noted.
The outlet added:
The caucus meetings kicked off at 8 p.m. Eastern, expected to vary in length across locations in the state, with some results available in as little as half an hour and others not anticipated until later this evening, according to The Des Moines Register.
When the projections put Trump as the winner, the second-place winner was still up in the air — with Haley and DeSantis neck-and-neck for runner-up.
Heading into Monday’s closely watched contest, observers widely expected Trump to win the Hawkeye State — but DeSantis has been investing heavily in the state. He’s completed a tour of all 99 Iowa counties and secured the endorsement of Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“The very very early results show Trump winning big, but the early network call is a little questionable. People are still at caucus sites, and they have phones – how many people see the call and bail?” Semafor reporter David Weigel said on X.