— -- Donald Trump’s Iowa state director Chuck Laudner isn’t fazed by how his candidate's proposals are often surrounded by controversy or a Monmouth University poll released this week that has Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ahead of Trump.
Laudner’s been in Iowa politics for 30 years serving as the brains behind Rick Santorum’s rollercoaster ride to winning the caucus in 2012. He says the Trump campaign in Iowa has no bad days.
“You see the energy in those final closing days or when someone can really grab the heart and soul of the base and the activists of the Republican party. But, I’ve never seen anything this loud and this sustained from day one,” Laudner told ABC News. "It’s been incredible and it just has not subsided at all. We jump out of bed everyday with joy because we know every day will be a successful one.”
Laudner says he’s never seen the intensity and support behind a candidate the way in which Iowans are responding to the political outsider. The first-in-the-nation-caucuses are Feb. 1 and Trump returns to Iowa this evening for a town hall at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines. Trump has taken questions from supporters at his events in the past, but is normally on a stage located in the front of an event. Tonight, he’ll be located in the center and Laudner says the campaign invited issue based organizations from ethanol to 2nd amendment groups who will have the opportunity to hear from Trump in the states capital city.
Iowa visits from politicians tend to slow down around the holidays, but Laudner says he’s already busy planning the month of January, where Trump and his plane will be seen all over the state.
"We’re constantly working the phones and out there organizing in all the counties right down to the precinct level. Now it’s time to close the deal, turnout as many voters as possible.”
Trump has been the frontrunner in Iowa according to the polls for nearly five months, but Laudner tells ABC he likes the fact that Trump is still considered an underdog. The media along with Trump’s opponents have floated the idea that although Trump's supporters consistently fill his events with crowds larger than anyone else in the race, they may not show up in droves on caucus day in the cold. Laudner isn’t buying it.
“If they show up [to a campaign event] and spend 5 minutes, they’ll know it’s real. That said, I like to have them underestimate our strength.”
For Steve Mikesell, an insurance investigator from Chariton, IA, he says it’s been a long time since he voted for someone he wanted to vote for. That has all changed with Donald Trump in the race, someone he thinks says what he believes, rather than trying to be politically correct.
“He’s so successful, why does he want to be President? I think he wants to be President because he wants to do the right thing. Not because he can end up with a huge bank account when it’s all over.”
Mikesell and his wife Doris caught Trump’s speech in Newton, IA last month and enjoyed the Dominos pizza served afterwards courtesy of the campaign. Like many Iowans, Steve Mikesell admits the caucus is still seven weeks away and things can change, but Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States didn’t come as a surprise to him.
"What he says does not seem like he wants a total ban and never let a Muslim into the country,” Mikesell told ABC. "That would be wrong. That is against what we are. But, in the short term, to ban anybody coming in from a Muslim country until there have been sufficient background checks, until we know who they are, I don’t see anything wrong with that."