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Trump courts young voters in Iowa before heading to two rallies for the Jan. 15 caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former President Donald Trump courted young conservative activists Saturday morning in Des Moines as he kicked off another day of campaigning in the state that will launch the race for the White House in just over a week.

“You’re a good looking crowd … I usually don’t look at people who are this attractive,” Trump quipped to members of Run GenZ, an organization that encourages young conservatives to run for office. Many in the audience at the Embassy Suites hotel in Des Moines seemed surprised to see Trump, whose visit had not been previously announced.

Trump’s campaign is hoping to turn out thousands of supporters who have never caucused before on Jan. 15 as part of a show of force aimed at denying his rivals momentum and demonstrating his organizing prowess heading into the general election.

He is set to hold a pair of commit-to-caucus events later Saturday in Newton in central Iowa and Clinton in the state’s far east. His chief rivals, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were also campaigning in the state as they battle for second place in hopes of emerging as the most viable alternative to Trump, who is leading by wide margins in early state and national polls.

Trump used his stops in the state on Friday evening to step up his attacks against Haley, who has been gaining ground, accusing her of being insufficiently conservative and a “globalist.”

He also highlighted several recent Haley statements that drew criticism, including her comment that voters in New Hampshire correct Iowa’s mistakes (“You don’t have to be corrected,” he said) and her failure to mention slavery when asked what had caused the Civil War.

“I don’t know if it’s going to have an impact, but you know like … slavery’s sort of the obvious answer as opposed to her three paragraphs of bulls—-,” he told a crowd Friday.

Haley’s campaign has pointed to his escalating attention, including a new attack ad, as evidence Trump is worried about her momentum.

“God bless President Trump, he’s been on a temper tantrum every day about me … and everything he’s saying is not true,” Haley told a crowd Saturday in North Liberty, Iowa. ___

Price reported from Newton, Iowa. Colvin reported from New York. AP National Politics Writer Steve Peoples in North Liberty, Iowa, contributed to this report.

Michelle L. Price, Jill Colvin And Andrew Harnik, The Associated Press

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