But even voters who are strongly considering supporting Mr. DeSantis questioned whether he could beat Mr. Trump.
“How do you overcome this deficit?” said Richard Abrams, 38, a middle school teacher from Iowa City. “How do you persuade these Trump voters to come to your side? You’ve got to win some of those people over.”
Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis weren’t the only candidates who vied for attention at the game. Vivek Ramaswamy, the political newcomer who has surged in the polls in recent weeks, strolled through the tailgate after several earlier appearances in the state. He garnered some attention, taking a quick shot of water from a “shot ski,” a ski to which shot glasses were attached, and shaking hands as he went. But he didn’t stay for the game, instead trying to jet off to a town hall in New Hampshire that was canceled after his plane grounded “due to inclement weather.”
Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor running on a stridently anti-Trump platform, also appeared briefly at the tailgate. In remarks to reporters, he attacked Mr. Trump’s character and took a swipe at Mr. DeSantis, who allied himself closely with the former president while running for governor in 2018.
“Donald Trump’s not going to speak the truth in this election,” said Mr. Hutchinson, who is barely making an impression in the polls. “But America needs to move in a different direction, and we don’t need a ‘Trump-lite,’ either.”