Donald Trump is in it to win it, at least according to nationally syndicated Iowa-based conservative radio host Steve Deace.
Deace told Breitbart News on Tuesday evening that Trump, the real estate magnate and reality television star who’s flirted with running for president before, took one of the biggest steps toward launching a White House bid any potential candidate could take by hiring Chuck Laudner, someone considered to be the most respected grassroots operative in Iowa GOP politics.
“Chuck is by far the best conservative organizer in Iowa and there is not a close second,” Deace said in a phone interview on Tuesday evening. “I’ve had multiple campaigns ask me for my recommendations on staffing and I’ve given Laudner’s name at or near the top to every campaign that has asked.
“Trump signing Laudner–who had other options–that would be an instant signal that he is serious. That this is not some flight of fancy where he’s going to yank everybody’s chain and then back out—look like he was getting serious then not run like what happened four years ago.”
Laudner led former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s 2012 campaign in Iowa–a campaign where Santorum beat eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney–and drove him around in the “Chuck Truck,” a pickup truck in which Santorum hit all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Reached through an aide late Tuesday night, Trump confirmed the hire to Breitbart News.
“As I continue to strongly consider running for president in 2016, I am honored to have Chuck Laudner’s advice and counsel,” Trump said in a statement provided to Breitbart News. “Chuck is a strong addition to a growing team.”
Trump adviser Sam Nunberg also told Breitbart News to expect more announcements to be released “shortly.”
Deace said this means that Trump is dead serious about running for president in 2016.
“Laudner would not go there unless Trump is all the way in,” Deace said. “Laudner used to be a high-ranking official with the Republican Party of Iowa. He is on good terms with pretty much every single respected conservative in Iowa, really tight with Congressman Steve King and helped Bob VanderPlaats run the judicial retention fight we won a few years ago. There’s no other way of understanding that. This is a major coup for Donald. Major coup.”
Trump has previously noted he’s considering running for president in 2016 and has taken numerous shots at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and more places. He’s also set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, later this week, right outside Washington, D.C.