Donald Trump’s history of using, and many would argue abusing, eminent domain in his business life has surfaced time and again on the campaign trail, with Saturday night’s GOP debate as no exception.
ABC News’ David Muir asked the real estate mogul about a project in New Hampshire that would bring hydroelectric power from Canada into the Northeastern grid. "Do you see eminent domain as an appropriate tool to get that project done?” he asked, pointing to Trump’s past business endeavors and his support for its use for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Trump was defensive from the start, knocking the number of people who have hit him over the issue.
“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 argued.
Trump also used it as a platform to attack ‘big conservatives,’ suggesting that their criticisms of him for his support of it are hypocritical, given how much they support the Keystone Pipeline.
“The Keystone Pipeline without eminent domain—it wouldn’t go 10 feet, OK? You need eminent domain, and eminent domain is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said, adding that it’s fair because when it’s used to take someone’s property, that person is given at least market value if not ‘two or three times’ what it’s worth.
Gov. Jeb Bush didn’t let him have the last word on the issue, however, as he interjected that the “difference between eminent domain for public purpose as Donald said, roads and infrastructure … but what Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City—that is not public purpose, that is downright wrong.”
Trump attempted to argue that he didn’t take the property, failing to mention (as Jeb rightly pointed out) that that was because he lost in court.
Their exchange really heated up at the 2:10 mark when Trump said Bush was just trying to ‘be a tough guy.’ The Florida governor kept slamming him on the issue, however: "how tough is it to take property from an elderly woman?”
Check out the clip below and decide who you think performed best: