Friday’s “Speaking the Unspeakable” event hosted by Vivek Ramaswamy with the Free Soil Coalition was a unique event. It was not your typical rally or town hall featuring a presidential candidate.
For those who don’t know, Iowa landowners are in a battle for their private property rights. A GOP mega-donor and well-connected Republicans, all the way up to former Gov. Terry Branstad, stand to benefit big time from a carbon capture pipeline project. Ironically, it is a project that promises economic return because of tax credits that were saved by Iowa’s congressional Republicans in a debt ceiling deal with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
And don’t think it ends there. The Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. The omnibus bill also extended the 45Q credit for carbon capture projects for two years.
Make no mistake – the betrayal on this issue runs deep.
The pipeline(s) may be built using eminent domain, leaving Iowa landowners desperate for someone, somewhere in government to protect their private property rights and stand with them in the fight.
Lawmakers in the Iowa House passed a bill earlier this year that would have provided much stronger requirements for eminent domain for such projects, but it was Dead On Arrival in the Iowa Senate. And Gov. Kim Reynolds has also been MIA on the issue for Iowa landowners.
Republican presidential candidate Ryan Binkley has been a voice of support for the landowners. However, he hasn’t participated in any of the debates thus far and has struggled to receive the same attention as so-called “major candidates” like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Ramaswamy and Trump. Even Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson have received more attention than Binkley.
That changed this week, however, as Ramaswamy has embraced the movement to preserve and protect private property rights.
He spoke for about 45 minutes on the issue at Friday’s event. He delivered a deep knowledge of the issues surrounding the project and also offered potential solutions he could offer as President of the United States.
More than that, he provided a platform to raise awareness. About 10 additional speakers took the stage. Many of them are supporting someone else for President. But Ramaswamy didn’t care. He shared the spotlight with them anyway.
This isn’t something we’ve seen many presidential candidates do — allow state legislators who have already endorsed another candidate to receive time on the mic at one of their events.
Could you imagine Donald J. Trump allowing a DeSantis endorser to speak on stage at his rally? DeSantis has helped state lawmakers with plenty of fundraisers, but I don’t believe he has done a fundraiser for a lawmaker who hasn’t endorsed him (I could be wrong and would be happy to update if false).
More than that, Ramaswamy did not pressure those in attendance to support his effort in the Iowa Caucus. Instead, he implored them to support whichever candidate they believe will do their best to maintain their oath to the United States Constitution.
“You all go first for a reason,” he said. “You all chose who occupies that White House, who it is that swears an oath to that Constitution next. And I want you to take that responsibility seriously when you do. If somebody else is going to do this more effectively than me, then go with them. But it has to be somebody who is able to speak the truth in a way that is unconstrained.”
Ramaswamy said he wouldn’t tell the crowd it is “Morning in America.” Or that the American Dream is alive and well.
“It’s not or we wouldn’t be in this room today,” he said. “Part of the American Dream is about protecting your property rights. It is not alive and well, it is alive and hanging on for life support. But it can be. So, I’m asking you all to do your part.”
Ramaswamy asked those at the event to share what they learned with 100 other people between now and Jan. 15. And, he added, Iowans need to take that information and “demand” their political leaders up to and including Gov. Reynolds have the courage to speak for the citizens that they represent.
He reminded them the President can do something to address the issue. And on Jan. 15, Iowans who give 30 minutes of their time to save the country and stand for the Constitution can make a difference.
“Pick whoever you think is going to be best loyal to keeping that oath on the hard issues,” he said. “Hard issues like the one we’re here to discuss today, the one that will affect whether or not pipelines run through farmers’ land who don’t want that pipeline running through it. Whoever you think is going to actually best keep their oath to the Constitution when it’s not just easy but when it’s hard, go out on Jan. 15, take 30 minutes, bring those same 100 people with you and bet that our country’s best days can still yet be ahead of us.”
This was way more than a “political opportunist” as some might suggest. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association put out a statement on Nov. 30 declaring Ramaswamy’s position on the pipelines is “driven by politics, not principle.”
If you don’t believe me, watch his entire talk on the topic. There is far too much depth and detail for it to just be some political hail mary in hopes of securing a solid finish in the Iowa Caucus.
Rest in peace, Sandra Day O’Connor. Honor her legendary dissent in Kelo vs. City of New London by overturning that disastrous decision. Private property is the foundation of this country. She stood for it. Speak the Unspeakable *live* now: https://t.co/2Hy8qr4YXL
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) December 1, 2023
And let’s just say he is being a political opportunist. Is his “political opportunism” worse than inaction from the other “major” candidates?
Trump’s campaign said the 45th President is “undecided” on eminent domain for the project.
On one of the tweets The Iowa Standard published promoting Ramaswamy’s event, an advisor for DeSantis said Ramaswamy should “speak about real issues.”
We contacted the DeSantis campaign and asked what DeSantis’ position is on the use of eminent domain for this private project — the carbon capture pipelines. We asked what he believes regarding the merits of “carbon capture.”
His campaign pointed us to comments DeSantis made in August:
“The question’s about what’s the proper scope of eminent domain. I believe it’s narrow. I believe it’s for public purposes and I think when you have some of these projects, you need to negotiate with the property owners rather than use the coercise power of the state. Negotiate.”
We were aware of that statement. We responded to the campaign that we were hoping for something specific to the carbon capture pipelines as well as the merits of carbon capture.
We have not received a response to our follow-up.
There is a great pastor in the state who once shared a quote with me that went something like, “I like my way of doing something better than your way of doing nothing.”
Right now the other major candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the White House are doing nothing on this issue. Binkley and Ramaswamy are it.
This isn’t just about the climate change agenda hoax. This isn’t just about the abuse of private property rights. This isn’t just about whether capturing carbon has merit. This isn’t just about crony capitalism at its worst.
It is about all of that — combined.
This is a betrayal of the base of Republicans elected to the legislature and Terrace Hill.
At this point, does it really matter why a presidential candidate is willing to stand beside them?
Ramaswamy said he was told as a presidential candidate he could speak about any issue in Iowa — except for the pipelines.
Were the others told the same?
He is taking a risk speaking out. He could have viewed this as a “state issue” as some of the congressional representatives have suggested. But he didn’t.
Iowans who care about this issue now have an opportunity to show just how much they care. If Binkley and Ramaswamy are the only candidates between now and Jan. 15 who come out for private property rights and against this abuse of eminent domain and this betrayal of the base, but they aren’t rewarded come caucus night, what message does it send?
Really. If these guys are willing to tackle this and stand beside Iowans in their fight for private property rights, but Iowans aren’t willing to stand beside either of them on Jan. 15, what will it say?
I’m not saying Iowans have to vote for either of them. There are a number of Iowans who may not care about this issue. But there are many Iowans, supposedly, who care deeply. Many who say this is their No. 1 issue. I’ve been told by a chair of a GOP county central committee that if eminent domain is allowed to be used for these projects he’ll resign and never vote Republican again.
I’ve seen Iowans at the Capitol requesting their lawmakers to stand with them. To protect them. Only to have the lawmakers turn their backs on them.
So now you have two presidential candidates joining in the fight. The rest know about the issue. Trust me, they know it very well. And they’re choosing to do nothing as Iowans get steamrolled.
Look, some of you will undoubtedly read this as an “endorsement” of sorts for Ramaswamy and Binkley. But guess what, according to my calendar there are six or seven weeks between now and Jan. 15. Any of the other candidates can join this fight.
They can’t deny knowing about it.
I hate to be transactional about this, but let’s just be honest. If neither Binkley nor Ramaswamy is rewarded for standing up to Bruce Rastetter and the political machine, why would any future Iowa politician dare to do the same?