In Iowa, Ron DeSantis Shops Retail (for Votes) 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks with attendees during an Iowa GOP reception on May 13, 2023 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa—This time, Ron DeSantis stayed.

The Florida governor with a reputation for ducking in and out of political events and avoiding small talk and glad-handing stuck around Saturday after delivering a monochromatic, policy-focused, 35-minute keynote speech at Rep. Randy Feenstra’s annual grassroots fundraiser in northwest Iowa. Flanked by his wife, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis, the governor worked the room, posing for grip-and-grins, taking selfies, and kibitzing with voters likely to participate in the crucial 2024 nominating caucuses. 

“He was real,” Feenstra, neutral in the primary for now, told The Dispatch. “This is what retail politics is all about in Iowa.” 

Feenstra offered his thumbs-up review after DeSantis joined him and Gov. Kim Reynolds for some burger flipping at the picnic grill outside—an entirely manufactured photo-op—and visited the specialty deviled eggs stand to grab some gourmet fare for his wife as a throng of reporters snapped pictures and shouted questions. DeSantis wasn’t done yet. Next, he and the first lady headed down the road to the local Pizza Ranch, a buffet-style chain restaurant ubiquitous in Iowa and a popular stop for Republican presidential contenders.

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