Republican presidential hopefuls are campaigning aggressively in the state, which is seen as crucial for many candidates, including former President Donald J. Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, all. who are courting the state’s more rural and evangelical voters to gain early momentum in the race.

The chosen day is also the date a judge has set for a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Trump brought by E. Jean Carroll. Ms. Carroll (who also filed a separate defamation suit) won a civil case against Mr. Trump in May.

Iowa’s status as the first presidential contest was seemingly upended last year, when Democrats rearranged their nominating calendar to prioritize states with more racial diversity and move away from the party system.

With the approval of Mr. Biden, the DNC in February voted in favor of a new calendar that propelled South Carolina – the state that saved his candidacy in 2020 – to the first primary place on February 3, 2024, from the fourth position which it held in. 2020. Democrats in New Hampshire and Nevada would then hold their contests three days later.

Republicans have not followed suit, keeping Iowa in first place, meaning the Midwestern state remains a key battleground for Republicans as the large field of challengers tries to unseat Mr. Trump from his position as the front-runner for the party’s nomination.

The date chosen by the state party is weeks earlier than it has been for the past several meetings: In 2020 the contest took place on February 3, and in 2016 it fell on February 1. The last time the state held its meetings was in January. it was in 2012, when they happened only three days into the new year.

Iowa has not chosen the party’s eventual candidate, excluding sitting presidents, since 2000, when George W. Bush won the caucuses and then the general election.

Still, many Republican candidates, and voters nationwide, see the now solidly red state as crucial to gaining early momentum and national attention. In a year when Mr. Trump maintains a sizable lead in the primary polls, doing well with a constituency well used to being courted by politicians is seen by many candidates in the 2024 race as essential to any chance of success.

Republican presidential hopefuls continue to woo Iowans in the six remaining months before the caucuses, as front-runners and long-shot candidates alike have ramped up their appearances in the state.

Mr Trump held a rally in Iowa on Friday where he made farming issues central to his argument for why voters should elect him, a clear nod to the state’s agriculture-based economy. And Mr. DeSantis’ wife, Casey, visited Iowa on Thursday for an event held alongside the state’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds.

Several candidates will appear in the state next week for the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, billed as “the Midwest’s largest gathering of Christians seeking cultural transformation.” The event will feature appearances by candidates including Mr Scott and Mr Pence, as well as an interview with Mr DeSantis and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

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