DES MOINES — If nothing else, Donald Trump certainly didn't toe the company line or kowtow to the citizens of Pella, Iowa, while touting his support for eminent domain during his second campaign stop in the Hawkeye State on Saturday.
With only eight days until voting, the Republican Party front-runner continued to back eminent domain -- the power of taking private land for public use -- before a crowd interspersed with locals from Pella and Oskaloosa as the two cities continue to push to build a regional airport by using the practice. Twice during the speech, Trump called the practice a "positive thing" while talking up the necessity of its use.
"I'm not in love with eminent domain, but eminent domain is a good thing. It's necessary," Trump said, adding later that "eminent domain is something that's a positive thing — not a negative thing. Yeah, sometimes cities will use it in order to do business."
"Let's say a person has a house or a person has a backyard and they're going to build a factory that's going to employ 5,000 people, and sometimes the city will use the power," Trump said. "And by the way, if you don't get that property, they're going to go to another city, and they're going to spend millions of dollars and they're going to build a factory there, they're going to employ 5,000 people — but not in your city. Eminent domain is a positive thing. It's got to be used judiciously."
According to reports, the building of the proposed airport, which has been talked about for over a decade, would seek to use eminent domain to take property from nine separate properties. Despite largely enjoying Trump's remarks, locals in the crowd admitted they were a little surprised Trump used the occasion to support the idea.
"If I had to say yes or no to the airport ... I would say no. It's going to be a huge tax burden on the community. I don't want to see that," said Guy Schwab, a Pella resident. "I don't want to be given the bill for ... private enterprise thinking that they want something. Right now, we've got private businesses that front that airport. I don't want the bill."
Schwab, a 65-year-old impending retiree, argued that the airport isn't a necessity as the two current airports (Pella and Ottumwa) aren't deficient structurally or financially.
In his pitch, Trump also touched on the building of pipelines, specifically mentioning the Keystone XL and Bakken pipelines, which runs from Northwest to Southeast Iowa to deliver crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois.
"Where else is eminent domain used? For pipelines. All of these [GOP 2016 candidates] are in favor of the Keystone pipeline," Trump said. "You couldn't build five feet of the Keystone pipeline without eminent domain. It's going through people's farms, it's going through people's houses."
"Without it, you wouldn't have any highways, you wouldn't have laws," Trump continued. "Did anyone know that that's how you build roads and thats how you build schools and that's how you build other things?"
Bob Owens, a 61-year-old resident of Pella, agreed partly with Trump's points, stating, "yeah, you've got to think about progress, and you've got to think about things that [Trump] was talking about. But when it gets to actual personal and talking about taking away your farm, then it gets to be a little bit of a different deal [who's against the airport.] We have a good airport. We have an airport that's functional. I just personally don't think there's a need for it."
Although the situation is in limbo, the stance of many area residents is clear with signs lining Highway 163 protesting the airport. Other candidates who have come into the area have taken on the issue directly, with Sen. Rand Paul hosting a town hall on the subject in Oskaloosa on Jan. 7.
The real estate mogul made the comments only days after a new ad from Sen. Ted Cruz, in which the senator hit Trump calling eminent domain is "wonderful" in an October interview and past uses of it -- specifically in Atlantic City.
Trump is currently in a heated battle with Cruz to win Iowa. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Trump leads by 2.5 points over the Texas senator. In the Washington Examiner's presidential power rankings, Cruz is in first place with Trump in second.
While Trump is slated to make stops in Iowa on both Sunday and Tuesday, Cruz will be holding events from Monday to Friday, with the two meeting Thursday at the GOP debate in Des Moines.