As he runs for the White House a third time, former President Donald Trump appears to be embracing a campaign tradition mostly avoid 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.”
“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.