The question of eminent domain came up during last night’s Republican debate, held in New Hampshire. To the amusement and dismay of the audience, Trump and Cruz went at it, arguing like an old married couple.
WMUR TV’s anchor and political director, Josh McElveen, asked the question, reports the Washington Post.
“Mr. Trump, you have said, quote, ‘I love eminent domain’ which is the seizure of private property for the sake of the greater good theoretically. You tried to use the measure in business endeavors, you’ve said you’d support its use for the Keystone Pipeline project.
“Here in New Hampshire, a project, though, known as the Northern pass would bring hydro-electric power from Canada into the Northeastern grid. Do you see eminent domain as an appropriate tool to get that done?”
Mr. Trump immediately responded, saying that many people have criticized it and him for using it.
“Eminent domain is an absolute necessity for a country, for our country. Without it, you wouldn’t have roads, you wouldn’t have hospitals, you wouldn’t have anything. You wouldn’t have schools, you wouldn’t have bridges. You need eminent domain.”
He went on to say that eminent domain is a good thing.
“And what a lot of people don’t know because they were all saying, oh, you’re going to take their property. When somebody — when eminent domain is used on somebody’s property, that person gets a fortune. They get at least fair market value, and if they are smart, they’ll get two or three times the value of their property.”
Trump said emphatically that eminent domain is a necessity for a country, especially ours.
When Josh McElveen pressed him further for a yes or no answer to the questions, Trump said yes.
Jeb Bush took the opportunity to take a hit at Donald, calling him out for his attempted use of eminent domain to force an elderly woman out of her house.
“The difference — the difference between eminent domain for public purpose — as Donald said, roads and infrastructure, pipelines and all that — that’s for public purpose. But what Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose, that is downright wrong.”
The audience applauded loudly to this strike against the billionaire candidate.
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Trump took offense, saying that Jeb Bush was trying to be a tough guy and that he (Trump) did not take the land from the old woman.
Bush responded saying that Trump tried to take the property.
“The woman ultimately didn’t want to do that. I walked away,” exclaimed Trump, getting a bit testy.
Bush then compared the situation to what he did in Florida, taking away the option of eminent domain as part of Florida’s constitution. He claimed that was the better, more conservative approach.
The moderator, McElveen, told Trump that he had 30 seconds to respond.
Trump started to reiterate how tough Bush was trying to be when Bush interrupted him yet again.
“How tough is it to take away property from an elderly woman?”
Trump shushed him, raising a finger to his lips and saying “… let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times…”
He was interrupted again, but this time it was by the audience booing him.
Trump, as usual when attacked, upped the game, this time going after the audience. He commented to the cameras that those in the audience booing were Bush’s donors and the special interest groups.
More boos ensued, so he continued.
“That’s who it is. The RNC told us. We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they’re not loving me… the reason they’re not — excuse me. The reason they’re not loving me is, I don’t want their money. I’m going to do the right thing for the American public. I don’t want their money. I don’t need their money. And I’m the only one up here that can say that.”
The two candidates continued to bicker with each other, arguing over whether the Keystone pipeline was a private job or should be considered public use.
Bush repeatedly said it was public use, and Trump talked over him, saying that no, it was a private job.
Back and forth they argued over the eminent domain issue, until finally, mercifully, the moderator stepped in and stopped the debate for a commercial break.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]