Trump hires Iowa operative amid 2016 chatter

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Donald Trump has hired a key Iowa operative to be his point person in the state, keeping the chatter alive of a possible 2016 bid -- even though the billionaire real estate mogul has flirted with a run before, only to pull back in the end.

Operative Chuck Laudner confirmed to Fox News that he's been hired by Trump, and is putting together a full schedule of events in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, which will be released at a later date.

Laudner said the biggest struggle for Trump is getting people to take his professed interest in a run seriously and see him as a possible presidential candidate.

"It really is serious. And that's his biggest hurdle for him at this point is to convince people that's he's serious and not playing around with it," said Laudner. "Before we can even get to the issues ... first we have to convince people that he is serious about running."

Trump spoke at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, and ranked eighth in the straw poll.

According to Laudner, this is the first time Trump has hired anyone in Iowa. Laudner also backed up reports that Trump is making hires in South Carolina and New Hampshire, two early-voting primary states.

"He was always a one-man army ... doing his own thing," Laudner said.

Laudner ran former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's Iowa campaign in 2012. He said Trump will be headed to Iowa a lot more in the near future and they'll be focusing on rural areas and getting to know folks outside the big cities.

"Once you see Donald Trump in rural counties, it'll be another indicator of how serious he is," said Laudner.

On Friday, Trump plans to fly into Des Moines, Iowa, from Miami to speak at a reception for the Iowa Agriculture Summit. His speech will be recorded and played for the full summit audience on Saturday. Trump has to fly back to Florida for the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship being held at the Trump National Doral Resort.

The summit is attracting many of the biggest GOP 2016 potential candidates including: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; and Santorum, among other names.