GOP candidates pitch themselves as the future at Iowa Roast and Ride

Their messages echoed nearly identical themes: Unity, patriotism and American exceptionalism. Their objective was uniform: Defeating President Joe Biden and America’s “woke” left.

Eight of the Republican Party’s top presidential candidates stayed on message and avoided attacking each other Saturday at U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual “Roast and Ride” event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Ernst’s motorcycle ride and subsequent circuit of presidential speeches marked a key “cattle call” for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus season, featuring a growing Republican field that included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and other candidates courting support in the Hawkeye State.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, right, and former Vice President Mike Pence ride motorcycles during the annual Roast and Ride fundraiser, Saturday, June 3, 2023, on the way to the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

“It’s time to kick Joe Biden out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Ernst, who donned a leather Harley-Davidson vest on the ride, shouted in her introductory remarks.

After she rallied the crowd around conservative causes and opposition to the president, candidates began to lobby themselves to Iowans as the leader of that opposition.

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