As he runs for the White House a third time, former President Donald Trump appears to be embracing a campaign tradition he mostly avoided during his first two presidential campaigns: small scale retail politicking.
While Trump was known for his large rallies during his successful 2016 presidential campaign and his unsuccessful 2020 re-election bid, he rarely made small stops to talk with voters at restaurants, diners, coffee shops and fast-food joints.
During his trip last week to Iowa – his first to the state that leads off the GOP presidential nominating calendar since launching his 2024 White House campaign in mid-November – Trump’s large-scale event at the Adler Theater in Davenport and his comments targeting likely rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis grabbed headlines.
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But just as telling about his campaign was his unannounced stop ahead of the rally to a Machine Shed restaurant, which is a popular chain in the Hawkeye State, where he mingled with patrons.
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Last month, after visiting the site of a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Trump stopped by a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant.
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And following his campaign kick-off event in South Carolina on Jan. 28, the former president – whose love of fast food is well documented – surprised employees and customers as he stopped at Zesto of West Columbia, a restaurant known for its fried chicken, burgers and chocolate dipped ice cream cones.
Trump 2024 campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told Fox News “these types of visits garner a lot of eyeballs and attention, not just media-wise but social media-wise as well. But we’re still going to do rallies. This is not something in place of rallies.”
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“It’s just another tool in the toolbox to get the president out there, meeting and interacting with people face-to-face,” Cheung emphasized.
Trump announced this week that he would hold a large-scale rally in Waco, Texas, March 25 – and his campaign said Saturday that any potential indictment from the Manhattan district attorney’s office would not interrupt those plans.