I’m coming to the point where I think Donald Trump is going full-metal George Costanza on eminent domain
He’s told the same lies so many times about eminent domain that he actually believes them. Alternatively, he may realized, after Iowa, just how hostile Americans are to rich guys taking their stuff so they can get even richer and, unable to back down, has decided to double down.
Transcript via The Washington Post. Read the whole thing to appreciate the beating Bush laid on Trump over his suppoert of eminent domain. I’m going to focus a bit on the part I place in boldface:
MCELVEEN: Thank you, David. And good evening, candidates. 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?
TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you about eminent domain because almost all of these people actually criticize it, but so many people have hit me with commercials and other things about eminent domain.
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. And a lot of the big conservatives that tell me how conservative they are — I think I’m more than they are — they tell me, oh — well, they all want 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.
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. But without eminent domain, you don’t have roads, highways, schools, bridges or anything.
So eminent domain — it’s not that I love it, but eminent domain is absolutely — it’s a necessity for a country. And certainly it’s a necessity for our country.
MCELVEEN: So would that be yes on the Northern Pass project?
BUSH: 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 down right wrong.
And here’s the problem with that. The problem was, it was to tear down — it was to tear down — it was to tear down the house…
TRUMP: Jeb wants to be — he wants to be a tough guy tonight. I didn’t take the property.
BUSH: And the net result was — you tried.
TRUMP: I didn’t take the property.
BUSH: And you lost in the court.
TRUMP: The woman ultimately didn’t want to do that. I walked away.
BUSH: That is not true. And the simple fact is to turn this into a limousine parking lot for his casinos is a not public use.
And in Florida, based on what we did, we made that impossible. It is part of our Constitution. That’s the better approach. That is the conservative approach.
MCELVEEN: Mr. Trump, take 30 seconds.
TRUMP: Well, let me just — you know, he wants to be a tough guy. A lot of times, you’ll have — you’ll have — and it didn’t work very well.
BUSH: How tough it is to take away property from an elderly woman?
TRUMP: A lot of time — let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times — a lot of times…
BUSH: How tough it is to take away a property from an elderly woman?
TRUMP: … you — let me talk. Let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times…
… that’s all of his donors and special interests out there.
So — it’s what it is. That’s what — and by the way, let me just tell you, we needed tickets. You can’t get them. You know who has the tickets for the — I’m talking about, to the television audience? Donors, special interests, the people that are putting up the money.
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.
Eminent domain, the Keystone pipeline — do you consider that a private job? Do you — do you consider that…
BUSH: I consider it a public use.
TRUMP: No — no, let me ask you, Jeb.
Do you consider the Keystone pipeline private?
BUSH: It’s a public use. It’s a public use.
TRUMP: Is it public or private?
BUSH: It’s a public use. TRUMP: Real — a public use?
TRUMP: No, it’s a private job.
BUSH: It’s a public use.
TRUMP: It’s a private job.
BUSH: Established by the courts — federal, state courts.
TRUMP: You wouldn’t have the Keystone pipeline that you want so badly without eminent domain.
MCELVEEN: All right, gentlemen…
TRUMP: You wouldn’t have massive — excuse me, Josh — you wouldn’t have massive factories without eminent domain.
Unless you are a huge Trump fan, it is easy to see, on video and in the transcript, that Trump got his ass handed to him by Jeb Bush. He misrepresents the story of the Atlantic City widow Trump tried to have kicked out of her home — Jeb gets the story right — and he materially misrepresents the conservative objection to Kelo.
While Bush deserves credit for flogging Trump with this particular prevarication, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the guy who led the attack in Florida on the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision was Marco Rubio. He did this as a very junior member of the Florida legislature, though one who was clearly going places:
Right before taking the speakership, Rubio headed a special committee assigned to craft legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo vs. New London, which broadened the power of governments to take private property through eminent domain. Rubio put together a bill that limited the state’s authority to seize property and declared that the prevention or elimination of slums, blight, or public nuisance was no longer considered a valid public purpose for the government’s use of eminent domain. Few lawmakers wanted to stand up for the government’s right to seize private property, and the final bill passed with only three nays.
Jeb Bush may have signed the law, but it is Rubio who moved it through the Florida House.
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