Update 2: Adds quotes and details throughout
By Paula Escalada Medrano
Des Moines, United States, Jan 15 (EFE).- Former United States President Donald Trump swept the Iowa caucuses Monday, the first of the Republican primaries ahead of the presidential nomination, while neither of his rivals stood out enough to become a viable alternative.
Trump emerged victorious with almost 100 percent of the votes counted, securing 51.1 percent of the ballots – almost 30 percent ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 21.2 percent, while former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley came third with 19.1 percent of votes.
Technology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy came fourth with 7.6 percent of the ballots and later announced he was withdrawing from the primaries to support Trump.
“Earlier tonight I called Donald Trump… and now going forward he will have my full endorsement for president,” he told the media.
Trump’s victory in the coldest caucuses in Iowa history was so large that networks such as CNN, NBC and Fox called it just half an hour after the 700 voting centers (schools, churches and gyms, among others) opened their doors.
The speed of the projections surprised many, including some voters who were able to watch on their mobile devices as Trump was declared the winner, even before his vote was cast.
After Trump learned of his comprehensive victory, winning in all but one county, he celebrated with his followers at an event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, the state capital.
“I really think this is time now for everybody – our country to come together – we want to come together, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, it would be so nice if we could come together and straighten out the world, straighten out the problems and straighten out all of the death and destruction that we’re witnessing,” he said.
The initial conciliatory tone soon gave way to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, as he said the country is suffering an “invasion” with the arrival of migrants at the border with Mexico.
Among those attending Trump’s speech was Sharon Anderson, who had traveled from Tennessee to Iowa just to see the former president. She told EFE that she was not surprised by the result, since “Donald Trump said he was going to win and he always does what he says.”
While Anderson could not vote for not being an Iowa resident, Trump supporter Derek Davis said Monday’s victory is a sign that “there is still hope for democracy and for our Constitution.”
“Trump, as a candidate, represents the heartbeat and represents all of us,” he told EFE, wearing one of the 2,000 white caps with gold letters reading “Trump caucus captain” that the campaign distributed to encourage participation. .
Trump being declared the winner when some were yet to vote annoyed DeSantis, who in a statement accused the media of having interfered with results.
At a subsequent campaign event, DeSantis again accused the media of having been against him, but immediately conceded to having come in second place, which gives him hope to remain in the race for the nomination.
“Because of your support, despite of all of that that they threw at us, everyone against us, we’ve got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” he told his supporters.
Haley, who placed third, told voters to bet on young leadership and not support either Trump, 77, or current President Joe Biden, 81.
“Trump and Biden both lack a vision for our country’s future because both are consumed by the past,” said Haley, 51.
With all polls expecting a Trump win, the real race in Iowa was for the candidate who would secure second place and their closeness to the former president.