There were some fireworks at last night’s New Hampshire Republican debate, as our Toni noted in her wrap-up. One of them was the dust-up between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush over eminent domain. Trump seems to regard taking the private property of others for building anything as The Best Thing Ever, while Bush — eh, not so much. The kerfuffle between the two brought plenty of boos from the audience, all aimed at Trump and his boorish behavior.
Watch the brouhaha:
Despite his New York Tough Guy Schtick, Trump was incorrect several times in this exchange:
- Trump repeatedly pointed out that eminent domain is necessary to build roads, schools, and other public works. He’s correct there. But Bush pointed out that Trump’s attempt to remove an elderly woman from her home in Atlantic City in order to build a casino parking lot did not fall into that category of being for public benefit.
- Trump derisively kept insisting that he never took the woman’s property. No, he didn’t, because he couldn’t — after several failed lawsuits ended a judge eventually threw out the case. What wasn’t mentioned was that Trump also attempted to seize five small businesses in Bridgeport, CT, so he could build an office and entertainment complex; this time, Trump’s project fell apart before any maneuvers to obtain the property came to fruition.
- Trump challenged Jeb Bush on the Keystone Pipeline project, insisting that using eminent domain in building the pipeline is no different from his use of it to seize property because the pipeline is a “private” project. Bush answered that a state court had ruled that property could be taken to build the pipeline. Here Bush was correct: last month the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a 2012 state law gave TransCanada the right to force three landowners to sell their property to build the pipeline. Under the Nebraska state constitution, five judges are needed to rule a law unconstitutional; in this case that number fell short.
- Trump then lashed into the audience with accusations of them all being Bush’s “donors and special interests.” He boasted — as he frequently has — of having a self-funded campaign. “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.” Trump is not being truthful about his campaign being totally self-funded. The Washington Post found that a super PAC called “Make America Great Again PAC” received financing from Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s mother-in-law, and while Trump has not directly requested that people donate to it, he has appeared at a minimum of two of its events last summer. In addition, Slate reports that Trump’s declared fundraising numbers from last fall show that most of the $3.7 million he raised over a three-month period came from persons not named Donald J. Trump.
Once again, Donald Trump spent the debate producing lots of noise and bluster, all signifying nothing meaningful. Even “low energy” Jeb Bush got the better of him this time.