ANKENY, Iowa — Five Republican presidential candidates were down in Miami on Wednesday night, while Iowans watched at different campaign watch parties across central Iowa.
Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign hosted a debate watch party in Urbandale, Nikki Haley’s campaign held a watch party in Des Moines and the Quad Cities, and Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign was in West Des Moines and Ankeny.
Never Back Down hosted DeSantis supporters and undecided voters at Whiskey House in Ankeny. Among those voters — campaign county chairs and Iowa lawmakers.
“Focusing on poll numbers is like looking at betting numbers for the Super Bowl: not a point has been scored right now,” said Michael Barht, the Polk County Campaign Chair for Never Back Down. Barht responded to the latest Iowa poll numbers, saying that even though DeSantis is tied with Nikki Haley, the campaign believes there is a lot of meat on the bone.
A DeSantis supporter said that she has liked his performance in the first two debates, but she wanted to see a little more out of him on Wednesday.
“I think he needs to be a little stronger, a little,” said Connie Schmett from Clive. “He needs a little more power and grit.”
Schmett said she voted for former President Donald Trump twice, but never truly supported him as she doesn’t like how he carries himself.
An undecided voter said she was in no rush to decide on a candidate.
“I do have until this January, so I really have six or seven weeks, I have time to make up my mind and perhaps volunteer to caucus for someone,” said Claudia Steele, from Des Moines.
Steele had previously caucused in 2016 and 2020 for Trump.