This post has been updated.
NORWALK, Iowa -- Wednesday marked the first day of Donald Trump's new partnership with Sarah Palin, the colorful conservative icon who endorsed him at a rally on Tuesday night. The two planned to travel together to two campaign stops: First a small venue in the Des Moines suburbs, then a big rally in Oklahoma, according to a campaign press release. An online invitation for the first event promised the appearance of a "special guest."
Trump was alone as he took the stage at the Wright Place, a small venue in a strip of offices in Norwalk. Palin never showed up.
"So we had a big day yesterday -- yesterday was amazing in every way," Trump said to a crowd of about 300. "Sarah came along and she said: 'We love what's happening.' It's a movement, and no matter where we go, it's a movement."
Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said in a text message on Wednesday morning that Palin would be in Oklahoma for the Tulsa rally, but he would not say why she did not join Trump in Norwalk, as was previously announced. Palin later posted a photo on Facebook of her boarding Trump's jet in the snow, with the caption: "Trading in the beautiful snow of Iowa for the red dirt of Oklahoma as planned, despite what the media is trying to spin up! Thank you Iowa - get out and caucus on February 1st!"
In Norwalk, Trump spoke for about 40 minutes, urging the crowd to caucus for him on Feb. 1 and attacking his closest competitor in the state, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Trump promised that he will be in Iowa "all next week," and he plans to continue spending money on "some good commercials." He again pledged to win the caucuses and said he doesn't know what the impact of losing would be on his campaign.
"If we can do well in Iowa, we're going to run the table. If not, then I have to go, and we've got to win New Hampshire," Trump said. "Now, New Hampshire has been really strong -- but they say bad psychological things happen if you lose."
Trump's biggest challenge in Iowa right now: Cruz, who has been surging in early polls and collecting local endorsements. Trump warned his audience that if Cruz is elected, Democrats will likely sue and challenge his eligibility to be president, as Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Trump also criticized Cruz for not properly disclosing two major bank loans he received, and accused him of purposely hiding the information.
"What he wanted to do is say: I will protect you from Goldman-Sachs. I will protect you from Citibank. And I will protect you from the banks because I'm Robin Hood, and I'm this wonderful senator,'" Trump said. "What he did was wrong because he didn't want you to know that he's dealing with banks. … If he puts that down, then he's just like all of the other guys. It's wrong. It's wrong. It's really wrong."
Trump said Cruz's explanations of the undisclosed bank loans and his dual citizenship with Canada while serving as a senator are not believable. Cruz renounced his Canadian birthright citizenship, which he claimed he didn’t know he possessed, in 2014 after the Dallas Morning News reported on it.
"Smart guy, he doesn't know that?" Trump said. "Yeah, that's worse than Hillary, when you think about it."
Trump's crowd on Wednesday morning was far smaller than the massive rallies he usually holds, as he continues to experiment with doing more personal events ahead of the caucuses. He spoke for just 40 minutes and did not take any questions from the crowd, as he often does at small events. Trump also told the crowd that he spent the night in Iowa on Tuesday, something he rarely does.
"I stayed here last night, and I actually had good steak -- you have good steak, I've always heard that," Trump said. "I had good steak last night. I mean, I should have: If you don't have good steak, who's going to have good steak?"