In one of his last appearances before votes are cast, Donald Trump switched up his attack on rival Ted Cruz to an issue that hits home with many Iowans: ethanol.
“He will destroy your ethanol business 100%,” Trump said. “And look, I’m not really blaming him because he’s financed by oil people. The oil people don’t want ethanol, it’s very simple… Your ethanol business if Ted Cruz gets in will be wiped out within six months to a year. It’s gonna be gone.”
Texas Sen. Cruz is against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires more biofuels to go into the country’s gasoline each year. Cruz’s unique stance among the Republicans on this issue resonates much more with Iowans than in the rest of the country: almost half of Iowa’s corn supply goes into ethanol, according to the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association, which is one of the biofuels under the RFS.
Trump’s pivot to hitting Cruz on ethanol on caucus day, as opposed to his usual attacks on Cruz’s Canadian roots or undisclosed Goldman Sachs loans, is a last minute pitch to target the only citizens who have power Monday night.
Tailoring his attack to something that matters specifically to Iowans may be a smart play. Tubby Mitchell, 68, lives in Sioux City. He attended Trump’s Sunday event in his hometown, and told TIME why he decided to support Trump over Cruz.
“I like Ted,” Mitchell said. “Ted is a good man. I think he’s a good Christian man. He disappointed me a little bit about the ethanol subsidies. After all, he’s from Texas, and he’s trying to protect the oil companies, and I think we’ve protected them long enough.”
In the final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll before the caucus, Trump is leading the Republicans with 28%, and Cruz comes in second with 23%.