"This is exactly what fairgoers want, to meet Donald Trump. That is what they’ll get."
That’s a quote from Chuck Laudner, Trump’s Iowa campaign strategist who spoke to The Hill about the brazen billionaire’s planned visit to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday.
The popular event (which draws crowds of over 100,000 on sunny weekend days) will feature soapbox speeches from all major candidates except Trump, Rand Paul, and Hillary Clinton, who will nevertheless make an appearance with retired Iowa Senator Tom Harkin.
The reason they’ll be no stump from Trump (so to speak) is that the GOP frontrunner is feuding with the Des Moines Register, which sponsors the Presidential Soapbox. Back in July, the Register advised Trump to "pull the plug on his bloviating side show." As you can imagine, that did not go over well.
"The Des Moines Register doesn’t even think he should be a candidate, why should he step on their stage,"Laudner asked.
But make no mistake, Trump really doesn’t need the Des Moines Register to provide him with a stage because he will effectively make the entire site a stage when he lands in the middle of the fair in a private helicopter on Saturday. Here’s The Hill:
Trump will touch down in Des Moines in his private helicopter, the latest grand gesture by the real estate magnate who has been climbing the polls across the nation and in the Hawkeye State. Two new polls from Suffolk University and CNN/ORC have him at the top of the crowded GOP field in Iowa, knocking Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of the top spot.
Chuck Laudner, Trump’s Iowa strategist, told The Hill the plan is to hold a press conference after the chopper lands to quell the media frenzy and then let Trump walk around the fairgrounds.
“He’s not doing any standalone events, he’ll just be at the fair wading into the crowds. He wants to be with people and we are in no hurry,” he said, noting that staff will stay for the remaining eight days of the fair to meet with potential supporters.
Initially, Trump had planned to give children free rides in the chopper, but that idea was nixed by fair officials. Undeterred, Trump secured access to a nearby parking lot where kids of all ages will get to fulfill their lifelong dream of flying over Iowa in a 12-seat Sikorsky. Here's CNN:
he Iowa State Fair won't allow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to give kids free rides on his helicopter on fairgrounds, but the real estate developer has secured a nearby location.
The helicopter will take off from a parking lot outside the fair in Des Moines, campaign state chairman Chuck Laudner told CNN on Friday, adding that Trump may hop on a few rides as well.
CNN previously reported that the Sikorsky is one of three that he owns, seats 12 people comfortably, including the pilot.
Trump will arrive in the $7 million helicopter before holding a press event. Despite Trump's previous public announcement, his campaign expressed safety concerns about the event becoming so well attended that landing the aircraft could be a challenge.
The helicopter has already arrived in the area. It took three refueling stops to get it here and flew at an altitude of 2400 feet across the county, according to a source familiar with the travel plans.
Trump, however, did not take the helicopter to Iowa. Instead, he'll be flying Trump Air via a recently-purchased 757, which was scheduled to depart LaGuardia Saturday morning at 8:58 and should land in Iowa at around 10 local time.
The jet is a "perfect fit" for a national campaign NYC Aviation says, adding that "this particular aircraft was formerly owned by fellow billionaire Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and aviation buff extraordinaire. It already had a VIP interior, though it is likely that Trump would have had it gutted and customized to his specs no matter how nice it might have been."
And for those wondering what it looks like when Trump touches down, we'll leave you with the following enduring image: