ABC Michael Falcone reports:
As multimillionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump flirts with a 2012 presidential run, one of his top executives is spending Monday making the rounds of state-based GOP operatives, donors, grassroots organizers and activists in Iowa.
It’s a chance for Michael Cohen, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization and Trump’s special counsel, to test the waters in the key early caucus state and to promote his boss’s presidential ambitions.
And, by all accounts, Cohen is an expert promoter. Along with billionaire Trump backer, Stewart Rahr, he started the Web site, “Should Trump Run?” a few months ago. The site has already received nearly half-a-million hits.
While he’s in Iowa on Monday, Cohen has a wall-to-wall schedule of meetings with prominent political players in the state, including: Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party; Matt Gronewald, a staffer at the Iowa Republican Party who served as state political director for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; Jeff Lamberti, a former Iowa state legislator and co-owner of Arena Football League's Iowa Barnstormers; Mike St. Clair, an Iowa lobbyist who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign as well as Steve Forbes’ 2000 run; Rob Taylor, chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party; Doug Gross, a Des Moines lawyer and long-time political operative who worked for Romney in 2008; Steve Grubbs, a veteran strategist and founder of his own political consulting firm; Robert Haus, a seasoned political consultant who is vice president of public affairs of the Des Moines firm, Policy Works; and Kevin McLaughlin, chairman of the Polk County Republican Party.
The trip, Cohen told ABC News will offer him a chance “to learn the lay of the land in Iowa so that if and when in June Mr. Trump announces his decision -- and hopefully it will be in the affirmative -- we will already know the individuals.”
On the Web site Cohen created, he notes that Trump’s political boosters are actively soliciting supporters from Iowa and New Hampshire. Cohen said that he has already heard from "thousands" of Iowans who have “been writing in, expressing their hope that Mr. Trump elects to throw his hat into the race.”
And Trump has been offering his own hints, telling the Des Moines Register last week that he plans to travel to the state and “meet many, many people -- maybe all of the people” in Iowa.
“I’ve seen him negotiate very significant deals and know in my heart that what America needs right now is a leader with real, tested experience with business and negotiations to take our struggling an ailing economy out of the disaster that the so-called professional politicians have gotten us into,” Cohen added.
And in true Trump fashion, Cohen flew to Des Moines on a private jet emblazoned with the “Trump” name. (Cohen said it was Rahr, not Trump, who is paying for the trip.)