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Trump 71: Rolling over the defenseless

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A Ted Cruz television ad from last January aimed at Donald Trump about an incident in Atlantic City was declared not quite true by FactCheck, which looked into it. But the substance of it was essentially correct.

The point was that Trump tried to bulldoze a widow’s home, using eminent domain provisions, to build a parking lot for his casino. The error in Cruz’ ad was an indication that Trump succeeded. He failed, but not for lack of effort.

FactCheck said the ad contended “Trump ‘colluded with Atlantic City insiders to bulldoze the home of an elderly widow’ for a casino parking lot. Trump called that claim ‘false.’ We wouldn’t go that far. He wanted to bulldoze the home but lost an eminent domain case. However, the ad leaves the false impression that the widow lost her home, and she didn’t. After a long court battle, a New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Vera Coking of Atlantic City and said that she could keep her home. Trump eventually decided not to fight the ruling.”

The Cruz ad also quotes Trump as saying that eminent domain, a governmental power to take private real property for public use, “is wonderful.” In debates, he has correctly pointed out the power sometimes is necessary for construction of roads, bridges and public facilities. But sometimes it has been used as well to clear the way for private developments – like Trump’s – as well as public, and many people probably consider that a good deal less wonderful.

The point is debatable. What isn’t was Trump’s eagerness to use public power, a pretty raw club in this instance, to enhance his private interest. His ability to wield that club in Atlantic City was limited.

In the White House, it would be much broader.

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