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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Trump takes Iowa, and a big first step toward a rematch with Biden

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump, speaks during a campaign event at the Hyatt Hotel on Dec. 13 in Coralville, Iowa.  (Getty Images)
By Shane Goldmacher New York Times

DES MOINES – Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses Monday, a crucial first step in his bid to reclaim the Republican nomination for the third consecutive election as voters braved the bitter cold, looked past his mounting legal jeopardy and embraced his vision of vengeful disruption.

The victory, called by the Associated Press on Monday night only 31 minutes after the caucuses had begun, accelerated Trump’s momentum toward a historic potential rematch in November with President Joe Biden that could play out on both the campaign trail and in the courtroom.

In a state that rejected him in the caucuses eight years ago, Trump finished ahead of two of his main rivals, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, both of whom were locked in a race for second place. DeSantis narrowly took second ahead of Haley.

Both Republicans had spent as much time and money battling each other in Iowa as the front-runner. DeSantis, the Florida governor, had previously predicted victory in Iowa, and both he and Haley, former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, have argued that a strong second-place finish would better position them as Trump’s chief rival going forward.

Regardless of what comes next, Trump’s Iowa victory amounts to a remarkable resurrection of a political career that had once appeared in tatters. He was impeached in the final days of his first White House term for his role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.

His subsequent acquittal by the Senate left open the possibility of this return campaign.

Trump has spent the past three years methodically consolidating power to ready his own restoration. Even his four felony indictments, and his status as the only former U.S. president to ever face criminal charges, have united many Republicans behind his claims of “election interference” and victimhood at the hands of Democrats and the “deep state.”

Now, the Republican calendar will turn to New Hampshire, where polling shows Trump is expected to face a strong challenge from Haley in a state where independent voters can also cast ballots. Trump’s campaign and allied super PAC have already been blanketing that state with anti-Haley advertising, a sign of its competitiveness before the Jan. 23 primary.

DeSantis had entered 2023 as the party’s clear alternative to Trump.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.