DES MOINES, Iowa — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy each shared emotional stories about their wives having miscarriages during an evangelical Christian forum Friday afternoon in Iowa, as they and rival Nikki Haley shared a stage while speaking to a key voting bloc in the first caucus state.
“I actually haven’t shared this story before,” said Ramaswamy, his voice quivering slightly as he described the moment he and his wife Apoorva learned their first child was on the way while she was doing her medical residency in New York City.
“About three and a half months in… one day she woke up, she was bleeding. She had a miscarriage. We lost our first child,” Ramaswamy said.
Moments earlier, DeSantis described his family’s experience with miscarriage.
DeSantis spoke about a trip he and his wife, Casey, took to Israel early in their marriage, where the Florida governor said the couple prayed for a child.
“We go back to the United States, and a little time later, we got pregnant,” DeSantis said. “But unfortunately, we lost that first baby.”
It’s the first time both Ramaswamy and DeSantis have shared these stories publicly on the campaign trail. They came out as part of the Family Leader Thanksgiving Family Forum, an event put on by the organization’s leader, Bob Vander Plaats, a powerbroker in Iowa GOP politics who has endorsed a number of past winners of the state’s GOP caucuses.
Evangelical Christians are a key group of voters in Iowa, with about two-thirds of Republican voters in the 2016 Iowa caucuses identified as evangelical or born-again Christians, according to the NBC News entrance poll that year. Recent caucus winners have typically won evangelicals, including Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016, who outperformed Donald Trump by 12 points on his way to a narrow victory, according to the survey.
Now, Trump’s 2024 rivals took the stage at another event the former president has skipped, along with every Republican presidential debate so far, seeking inroads with a group that could decide the course of next year’s presidential contest. DeSantis and others have made it their mission to stop Trump in the early states before he can build momentum and inevitability around his comeback candidacy.