But the notable elements were not what was said by Trump, but who was there with him. Appearing alongside the ex-president was a who’s who of influential Republicans in the Hawkeye state, including Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson, former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker and Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann. Trump has held rallies since leaving the White House. But never have elected Republicans of such tenure and stature appeared with him. And the presence of Grassley in particular signified that whatever qualms the GOP may have had with Trump are now faded memories; whatever questions they had about the direction of the party have been resolved. Trump himself seemed to recognize as much, as he focused intently on re-litigating the results of the 2020 elections even while admitting his own party members wished he would just move on. “Sir, think to the future, don’t go back to the past,” Trump said some Republican members of Congress have advised him. “I’m telling you the single biggest issue, as bad as the border is and it’s horrible, horrible what they’re doing they’re destroying our country, but as bad as that is the single biggest issue the issue that gets the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers is talking about the election fraud of the 2020 presidential election,” Trump said. It was not that long ago when there was more uncertainty about Trump’s future within the party. Back in January, Grassley offered a stinging condemnation for Trump’s behavior in the aftermath of the 2020 election — the type of statement that, at its heart, suggested a desire to rid himself of the messiness. “The reality is, he lost. He brought over 60 lawsuits and lost all but one of them. He was not able to challenge enough votes to overcome President Biden’s significant margins in key states,” Grassley said in a statement offered after voting against Trump’s second impeachment. “He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own, loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count.” But Grassley is in a different place now. He recently announced, at age 88, that he is running for an eighth term. And with it, Trump has gone from nuisance to needed. This week, Grassley and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report that claimed Trump’s reported pressure on the Department of Justice to change election results was not just overblown but consistent with the commitments of the office of the president to uphold the constitution. And on Saturday night, Trump brought Grassley on stage to offer his “complete and total endorsement for re-election.” “If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” Grassley said. For Trump, this is a wonderful gift. The ex-president has been openly discussing the likelihood that he will run for president again. To be greeted with open arms in the all-important, first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state of Iowa was a flashing-neon light signal to voters that this party remains his. And he’s done it all while still launching broadsides against current leadership (he eviscerated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at various points on Saturday for striking a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and for not having the “courage to challenge the election”) and without offering a morsel of . . . read the full article here.