- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 9, 2021

Former President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Saturday night, calling the Kentucky Republican out for failing to challenge the 2020 presidential election.

Mr. Trump also called for Mr. McConnell’s ouster Thursday after he and 10 other Senate Republicans voted to help Democrats increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

“Mitch McConnell should have challenged that election,” Mr. Trump said during a campaign-style rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Saturday night. “Because even back then we had plenty of material to challenge that election.”

“[Senate Majority Leader Charles] Schumer would have challenged the election. Mitch McConnell did not have the courage to challenge the election,” Mr. Trump said. 

During his address, Mr. Trump dug in on President Biden’s stalled $3.5 trillion spending bill, railed against the administration on immigration, and took more shots on the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. But his claims that the 2020 election was rigged in favor of Mr. Biden was a prominent theme throughout.

“All of these calamities are the direct, predictable and disastrous consequences of a totally corrupt election,” Mr. Trump said of the Biden presidency. “It’s all because of the corrupt election. They rigged the election. And now based on the rigged election, they’re destroying our country.”

“Remember, this is not about me being robbed for the election, this is about the American people having their country taken away from them. That’s what it’s really about,” he said.

But his remarks also signal further divide in the Republican Party over the election claims.

Mr. Trump‘s stop in Hawkeye State, a proving ground for any presidential contender as the first-in-the-nation caucus state, further adds to the speculation that the former president will run again in 2024.

The former president has dropped several hints that he intends to run.

In June, Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he had made up his mind about 2024, but would not say whether he planned to run or not.

Mr. Trump told Newsmax’s Greg Kelly in August “I think a lot of people are going to be very happy,” when asked about his plans for 2024.

The former president continued to hint at a White House bid while visiting New York City on Sept. 11.  

Mr. Trump’s rally comes on the heels of a September Des Moines Register/MediaCom poll showing 53% of Iowans have a favorable view of the former president, topping his highest numbers among Iowans during his presidency.

Among Iowa Republicans, Mr. Trump enjoys a 91% favorability rating according to the same poll. He is viewed unfavorably by just 7% of Republicans in the state.

The same poll showed that Mr. Biden’s approval among Iowans fell 12 percentage points, while his disapproval jumped 10 points since June. Just 31% of Iowans approve of Mr. Biden’s handling of the presidency.

Mr. Trump carried Iowa in both 2016 and 2020.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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