Two different worlds collided in Des Moines on Saturday night as wedding crashing met Iowa politics. Iowa State Representative Taylor Collins had an unexpected guest at his wedding reception: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The couple, accompanied by their wives, made a grand entrance into the event to cheers and a standing ovation. They spent the next hour mingling with approximately 150 guests, according to videos posted on social media and confirmed by attendees. The bride, Savannah Collins, had invited the last-minute table-grabbers without her husband’s knowledge, surprising him. Other state legislators who endorsed DeSantis were also present at the reception.
For DeSantis, who is currently trailing behind former President Donald J. Trump in polls, this appearance was a clear attempt to demonstrate his interpersonal skills, which have been questioned during his presidential campaign. DeSantis’s allies believe that he can secure a victory in Iowa’s January caucus by visiting all 99 counties in the state, meeting voters in person, and winning endorsements from local officials. As of Saturday, he had already visited nearly 30 counties.
After making fewer visits to Iowa compared to some of his Republican rivals, DeSantis recently intensified his campaign efforts in the state. He has been focusing on Iowa, considering that polling suggests he performs better there than nationally. Prior to crashing the wedding, DeSantis had spent Friday and Saturday on a bus tour in northeast and central Iowa, engaging with small groups of voters and addressing their concerns. He emphasized the importance of showing up in people’s communities to make a case for why he should be the Republican nominee and the next president of the United States.
DeSantis’s comments during his campaign stops were seen as veiled attacks on Trump, who had skipped events organized by prominent evangelical Christian leaders and gotten into a dispute with Iowa’s popular Republican Governor Kim Reynolds. DeSantis implied that not showing up in communities and not earning voters’ trust is a mistake. Both DeSantis and Trump, along with other presidential candidates, are expected to attend the Iowa State Fair, a significant event in the political calendar.
Polling demonstrates that DeSantis’s efforts are resonating more in Iowa than in other parts of the country. Iowa Republicans view him as more moral, likable, and capable of defeating Joe Biden compared to the national average, although he is still lagging behind Trump in the state by 24 percentage points according to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll. While DeSantis has secured endorsements from state lawmakers like Collins, Trump enjoys greater support from members of Congress due to his personalized relationship-building style, which includes reaching out to lawmakers during times of illness and hosting dinners for them.
Crashing the wedding was not the first time DeSantis surprised Iowa voters. In May, after a busy day of campaigning in the state, he made an unscheduled stop at a barbecue restaurant in Des Moines. Following his unexpected appearance at the wedding, Collins expressed his excitement on social media, stating that it was an honor to be on #TeamDeSantis during caucus season. He viewed it as a unique opportunity for his family and friends from across the country to experience firsthand what it’s like to be in Iowa during this crucial political period. The night ended on a high note as everyone got a chance to spend time with the governor.
In conclusion, the convergence of wedding crashing and Iowa politics brought an unexpected twist to Representative Taylor Collins’s wedding reception. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s surprise appearance aimed to showcase his interpersonal skills and gain support in the Iowa caucus. His efforts in the state, including an aggressive campaign tour, have garnered some positive results. However, he still faces tough competition from former President Trump, who enjoys robust support from members of Congress. DeSantis’s surprise visits, including the recent wedding appearance, demonstrate his commitment to engaging with voters on a personal level as he aims to position himself as a Trump alternative in the race for the Republican nomination.