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Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa 

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley won’t be putting out the welcome mat for Republicans challenging President Donald Trump in 2020.

“I will be backing President Donald Trump,” Grassley told reporters Wednesday before laying out his reasoning for backing the GOP incumbent who ran “on a platform that was very different than others.”

Despite that, Grassley said, Trump has “had such success with the things he said he was going to do” like tax cuts, getting Europe to pay more for NATO defense, supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression and changing trade relationships. He’s also delivered on his promises on ethanol and delaying implementation of the Waters of the United States rules, Grassley said.

Grassley also cited progress on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement and in reaching agreements with South Korea, as well as opening negotiations with Japan and the European Union. Trump also has reopened negotiations with China.

“And don’t forget,” said Grassley, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, “about 20 percent of the people who voted for him were people who wanted the judges on the Supreme Court he said he was going to put on.” Trump has appointed two justices to the Supreme Court.

The list of potential GOP challengers to the president is not nearly as long as Democrats who are considering White House bids in 2020. Among those seen as possible Republican challengers are Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who are leaving Congress this year, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland also have been mentioned.

Ahead of Iowa’s 2016 first-in-the-nation caucuses, Grassley made a point of appearing at least once with each of the GOP hopefuls to introduce them to Iowans. He won’t do that in 2020.

“So that’s the way I feel. They’re welcome to come, but Chuck Grassley won’t be appearing with them,” he said.

The 2020 caucuses are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 3.

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Statehouse reporter for The Courier

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