Trump said that he was "very honored" by the number of fans who had come to the fair to see him.
"I think it's a great honor to be here, we have a record set, the record is the largest crowd they ever had, and I can see that," Trump told reporters at the fairgrounds. "I can see that because you cannot get any more people here and I am very honored by it, it's a tremendous thing."
Trump's appearance at the fair occurred on the same day as his chief rival for the party's presidential nomination next year, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), prompting competing events that could overshadow the Florida governor. The former president, who is dominating in the polls so far but has seen a small dip in Iowa, is also not participating in a "fireside chat" with Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) during his visit to the fair. Trump declined Reynolds' invitation to the one-on-one interview earlier this week.
The relationship between Trump and Reynolds has been strained in recent months, after the former president slammed her neutrality in the Republican primaries. Reynolds has refused to endorse a Republican candidate for president, claiming the race is far from settled and wants every candidate to feel welcomed in Iowa. But Trump has grumbled over the governor's relationship with his arch rival.
“Maybe down the road, we’ll do something different,” Reynolds told CNN. “But right now, it’s really important that they [the candidates] feel like they have a fair shot, and they’re welcome here in Iowa, and I want Iowans to have the chance to interact with them.”
Trump's latest appearance comes as his presence at the first GOP debate remains uncertain. The former commander-in-chief has qualified for the debates under its polling and donor criteria. But the Republican National Committee requires all candidates to sign a pledge promising to support the eventual nominee, which Trump has yet to do.
Five candidates have fully qualified for the party's debate, as well as having signed the pledge: DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Gov. Nikki Haley, Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND), and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Trump's former Vice President Mike Pence has also qualified, but has not signed the pledge, but has indicated that he will sign.
The first debate will be held Aug. 23, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a start time of 9 p.m. Eastern, and will be moderated by Fox News.