Vivek Ramaswamy completes double tour of every Iowa county

BETTENDORF, Iowa — GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy celebrated having hosted at least two events in each of Iowa’s 99 counties Tuesday evening, putting a flourish on a campaign strategy that’s leaning on a blistering campaign trail pace to budge single-digit poll numbers.

The all-county tour, dubbed the “Full Grassley” after Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has become a staple of campaigning in the caucus state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also visited every county in the state, but Ramaswamy completed the circuit twice with just weeks to go before the Jan. 15 caucuses.

Ramaswamy also received an endorsement at the town hall from former Rep. Steve King, who delivered his backing in a video message. 

“The strongest person we have to defend the Constitution and America’s destiny is Vivek Ramaswamy,” said King, beaming in on a projector to make the announcement. 

King, a controversial figure who lost his seat to a Republican primary challenger in 2020 amid broad backlash for making racist remarks, found common cause with Ramaswamy over the protest of the potential use of eminent domain to build carbon capture pipelines on private land in Iowa.

King once told The New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” He also earned condemnation from members of his own party for comments he once made about whether humans would exist if not for babies born as a result of rape and incest.

Ramaswamy tweeted earlier Tuesday that he had a “major endorsement coming tonight that will make the MSM lose their minds,” adding a winking emoji.

Ramaswamy and King first hit the trail together in early December. Ramaswamy often makes up to 10 campaign stops a day in Iowa in his bid for his party’s nomination, making him the busiest candidate in the race.

But he has remained stuck in place in terms of Republican support, according to most polls. In December’s NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, Ramaswamy had 5% support from likely Republican caucusgoers, trailing former President Donald Trump, DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Still, Ramaswamy believes he’ll place in the top three come caucus day. 

“We don’t need to win the Iowa caucus for me to have a full and clear path going all the way in the long distance, but I think [the goal] is to significantly exceed the expectations that have been set for us, as I expect we will,” Ramaswamy said after a campaign stop in Dubuque on Tuesday afternoon.