Republican presidential candidates vie for nomination ahead of debate this week

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(ABC 6 News) – The 2024 presidential election may be over a year away, but candidates are already on the campaign trail.

A lot of politicians say while campaigning never really stops, voters see the state fairs as the unofficial start to the campaign season.

The biggest presidential candidates on the Republican side of the aisle made waves at the Iowa State Fair, using summer fun as a chance to sway some voters.

In the state’s straw poll conducted at the state fair, former President Donald Trump is in the lead for the Republican nomination despite mounting legal troubles, at 42%.

Coming in second is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with 15%.

Desantis has sparked controversy after recently firing his campaign manager, but he’s hoping that a change could push him ahead in the polls.

“At the end of the day, I’m the leader and if it’s not up to what you want then you just have to make adjustments,” said Gov. DeSantis in an interview with Fox News.

Not far behind is South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. He has publicly called out DeSantis over his policies regarding teaching slavery in school. Scott’s main concern, however, is what he calls ‘chaos’ at the southern border.

“The first thing we have to do is use common sense, which means finish the border wall,” said Sen. Scott.

Another candidate trying to chip away at Trump’s lead is Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. He’s been critical of Trump from the start, saying Trump’s legal issues are a big problem.

In an unusual appearance, Democratic Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has trekked to Iowa recently, including a stop at the fair where he endorsed Republican North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

However, Walz has said he believes Trump will get the nomination in the end.

Walz has been known to criticize Iowa state policies following this year’s legislative session.

“There’s a very Minnesota and I would argue a very Iowa trait, that is ‘mind your own damn business’. We don’t need you in the exam room, we don’t need you telling us who we can love, we don’t need you dictating to us about rewriting the history of what happened in this country around slavery,” said Gov. Walz.

The first Republican presidential debate is scheduled for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hutchinson, who has been struggling in the polls, just announced Sunday that he qualified for the debate to be the 10th candidate on the stage Wednesday night.

All eyes will be back on Iowa in January for the first caucus.