(The Epoch Times)—The moment felt crafted to send a message.
Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy stood beside former Iowa representative Steve King, who was taken down in the GOP primary by Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) after a New York Times article alleged Mr. King had defended white nationalism. Both men were holding their hands over their hearts as they listened to the U.S. national anthem.
Last May, Mr. King in comments to The Epoch Times praised Mr. Ramaswamy, saying that he was “blazing a clear and bold trail for conservatism.” At the time, he had not thrown his support behind any candidate.
Now, though, he has endorsed the anti-woke entrepreneur. Mr. Ramaswamy has made a point of standing by him despite criticism from the legacy press.
“The fact that The New York Times says that Steve King said something a few years ago doesn’t make it true. I’ve gotten to know Steve well and trust him far more than the MSM [mainstream media],” Mr. Ramaswamy, who is of Indian descent, wrote on X on Jan. 2.
“I made a pledge to Steve, and I kept it at the fourth Republican presidential debate, talking about this issue,” Mr. Ramaswamy said at the Capitol.
The former congressman was among those who spoke at a Jan. 10 rally at the Capitol against the use of eminent domain for Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed carbon dioxide pipeline. Legal battles over the approval of its network of carbon capture pipelines are playing out throughout the Midwest, including in North Dakota.
Mr. King, still an influential political figure despite his exile from public office, has been a vocal local critic of the plans.
“It’s all driven by tax dollars and carbon credits,” he told The Epoch Times in May.
At least as early as a June appearance in Sioux City, Iowa, Mr. Ramaswamy was speaking out against the seizure of private farmland through eminent domain for “public use” in the form of a carbon capture pipeline, according to coverage from the Sioux City Journal.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., now an independent candidate, voiced strong opposition to carbon capture pipelines at the Iowa State Fair in August when he was still contending for the Democratic nomination.
Mr. Ramaswamy is reaping political dividends thanks to his strong stance on the issue. Another speaker at the event, state Rep. Steven Holt (R-Denison), announced his endorsement during the anti-pipeline rally. He had, in Mr. Ramaswamy’s delicate phrasing, backed “another candidate” up until that point—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“[Vivek] was, to my knowledge, the first presidential candidate to focus on this issue,” Mr. Holt told the crowd.
Mr. Holt’s perspective contrasts with the view of North Dakota state Sen. Jeff Magrum (R), one of Summit’s biggest foes in the state legislature.
“He [Mr. Ramaswamy] was desperate for attention. Rather than missing a golden opportunity, he jumped onboard,” Mr. Magrum told The Epoch Times.
Just days ahead of the Jan. 15 caucus, it remains to be seen whether Mr. Ramaswamy’s strong stance on pipelines and relentless touring across the state will translate to real votes of support. RealClearPolitics’ polling average has him below former President Donald Trump, Mr. DeSantis, and his bête noire, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.
Another contender who has been polling below the top candidates, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, dropped out of the GOP race on Jan. 10.
“Better late than never,” Mr. Ramaswamy told The Epoch Times in response to talk of Mr. Christie’s departure, still unconfirmed at the time he spoke.
He told reporters he was “in this to the very end,” regardless of his performance on Jan. 15.
Founders ‘Rolling Over in Their Graves’: Ramaswamy
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution holds that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
A central concern for pipeline critics is the 2005 Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London. The 5-4 decision—opposed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor—permitted the government to take private property and give it to private rather than public parties.
The Court found that the City of New London’s seizure of land to sell to private developers qualified as a “public use” since it was part of the city’s plan for economic development.
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“George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and John Jay are rolling over in their graves, and they were when Kelo v. New London was decided,” Mr. Ramaswamy said.
Eminent domain was also at issue when land was taken in Iowa for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which transports crude oil from the Bakken in far western North Dakota to an oil terminal in Illinois. The Iowa Supreme Court in 2019 held that those takings did not violate the U.S. Constitution or Iowa’s constitution.
The businessman was pressed on his view of oil and gas pipelines by anti-oil protesters.
“I don’t think any private company, including an oil company, should be able to use eminent domain,” he said.
‘Next Week It’s Going to Be Windmills’: Iowa Farmer
Allen and Christine Hayek are among the Iowans who stand in opposition to Summit’s vision.
At the rally, Mr. Hayek was wearing a hat emblazoned with the name of his agricultural operation, “Hayek Farms.” The fact that he shares a last name with Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, a legendary defender of private property rights, may just be a happy coincidence.
“Next week, it’s going to be windmills, it’s going to be solar panels … They’re literally going to take over every piece of ground we have,” Mr. Hayek told The Epoch Times.
He thinks the Dakota Access case was a little different.
“Even that [served] a public good,” he said.
“This thing serves no purpose other than to stick it [CO2] in a hole,” he added.
Another high-profile attendee of the Jan. 10 carbon pipeline rally was political activist and journalist Laura Loomer.
She told The Epoch Times that she was “ride or die” for President Trump, saying she couldn’t imagine him being prevented from running.
“The American people are not going to stand by for their elections to be stolen by power-hungry secretaries of state and enemies of our justice system. To remove President Trump from the ballot, it would literally cause a revolution in our country,” she said.
She suggested that Mr. Ramaswamy “would make an exceptional GOP nominee in 2028.”
John Haughey contributed to this report.