Donald Trump's Iowa town hall: Attacks on Ron DeSantis, Joe Biden and criminal charges

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Former President Donald Trump on Thursday combined two familiar venues − Sean Hannity's talk show and the state of Iowa − to lay out some campaign themes, particularly attacks on President Joe Biden, a variety of criminal prosecutors and Republican challenger Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"I really go after the one who's second," Trump said of DeSantis during a friendly town hall in Clive, Iowa, located near Des Moines.

A week after DeSantis officially entered the race, Trump also referenced the importance of the Iowa caucuses and protested the litany of investigations into his past conduct.

Here's what you need to know:

Target DeSantis − ignore others

Cheered on by an enthusiastic pro-Trump crowd, the ex-president repeatedly mangled DeSantis' name, joked about his recent run-in with a reporter and indicated he would continue to attack the Florida governor for as long as he stays competitive in the Republican nomination race.

"I don't think he's going to be second that much longer," Trump said at one point. "I think he's going to be third or fourth."

Trump also mocked some of his other opponents, citing low polling numbers for challengers like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

"I don't understand what they're doing," Trump said.

Earlier in the day, DeSantis told a New Hampshire radio show that Trump's name-calling is turning off voters.

"I think it’s so petty," DeSantis said. "I think it’s so juvenile. I don’t think that’s what voters want. And honestly, I think that his conduct, which he’s been doing for years now, is one of the reasons he’s not in the White House now."

Donald Trump and Sean Hannity in 2018
Donald Trump and Sean Hannity in 2018

Are more indictments coming?

Trump appeared to brace his supporters for the possibility of more criminal charges in the future, describing the series of investigations against him as political "election interference."

Trump, who is under investigation over taking classified documents and attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss, has made the same arguments for months − including before his March indictment in New York City over false reporting of hush money payments to a former mistress.

The former president did not discuss the specifics of the latest allegation: A CNN report that he discussed classified information about a prospective attack on Iran with two people who helped former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows with his memoir.

"I don't know anything about it," Trump told Hannity. "All I know is this, everything I did was right."

The Iowa caucuses are crucial

Through the hour-long event, Trump kept referring to issues of importance to Iowa voters, whose caucuses early next year will open the Republican delegation selection process. Topics ranged from abortion to agriculture policy in a state where religious conservatives and farmers are key voters.

"There's no way I lose Iowa," Trump said, echoing comments he made while campaigning earlier in the day.

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, cited Trump's boast that his appointees to the Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe v. Wade.

"In what was mostly an incoherent, rambling appearance full of recycled lies on Fox News, Donald Trump told the truth at least once in his safe space − no one did more to pave the way for abortion bans across the country than him," the DNC said.

Hitting Biden

Trump, responding to Hannity's questions, spent more time attacking Biden than his Republican opponents.

That included Biden's age, as the Fox host asked about the 80-year-old president's trip-and-fall and speech delivery during graduation ceremonies at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Trump claimed he asked Hannity not to joke about Biden's situation, but did say the Air Force incident was "sad" and that Biden "doesn't understand what is happening in the world."

"That was a bad fall," said Trump, who is 76 years old himself.

Biden got right back up after he tripped over a sandbag left on the stage. After returning to the White House hours later, he joked to reporters that "I got sandbagged!"

'You need six months'

Trump continued to make big promises, saying again that he could stop the Russia-Ukraine war "in 24 hours," a claim that members of both parties have denounced as irresponsible.

During his discussion of the war, Trump found time to again criticize DeSantis for saying he would need two terms to "slay the deep state" and address problems caused by bureaucracy.

"You need six months," Trump said during the town hall, repeating statements he made earlier in the day.

Asked about Trump's claim, DeSantis said: "My question to him would be: Well, you already had four years, why didn’t you slay it then?”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump's Hannity town hall: Attacks on DeSantis and Biden in Iowa