GOP 2024 hopefuls head to Iowa for Ernst’s ‘Roast and Ride’ gathering


Nearly the entire field of 2024 Republican candidates and likely contenders will flip pork chops and mingle with a crowd of politically plugged-in caucus-goers Saturday in Iowa as they participate in GOP Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual “Roast and Ride” event.

Former President Donald Trump is skipping the get-together. But all other leading candidates – including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson – will be on hand as they look to convince voters to support their bids for the presidency.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to announce his presidential campaign next week in Iowa, will be among the approximately 250 motorcyclists in Des Moines who will follow Ernst in a parade from the Big Barn Harley-Davidson to the Iowa State Fairgrounds to kick off the gathering.

Ernst arrives at Big Barn Harley-Davidson in Des Moines for the start of her Roast and Ride event on June 6, 2015.

The event will offer an early window into how the GOP hopefuls see the party’s field taking shape – and who they need to take on to climb in the polls.

DeSantis, on an Iowa swing this week, went after Trump in his most direct terms yet, saying the former president has “decided to move left” on certain issues.

Others in the field are focused on taking down DeSantis in an attempt to position themselves as Trump’s chief rival.

“Ron DeSantis is like Trump, drama and all – but without any of the charm,” Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, said in a memo in late May.

The presence of nearly all of the 2024 GOP contenders at Ernst’s eighth annual Roast and Ride event is a demonstration of her influence within the party – both in Washington, where she is Republicans’ fourth-highest-ranking senator, and in Iowa, where a strong performance in the caucuses is a crucial momentum-builder for presidential hopefuls.

The Roast and Ride kicks off a summer of “cattle calls” – gatherings of large crowds of Republicans in states that vote early on the primary calendar – where presidential candidates flock for opportunities to impress activists and voters and build support for their campaigns.

Many of the same 2024 hopefuls were on hand for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s spring kickoff in April, but most had not yet officially launched their campaigns.

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