Businessman and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump had a rough time in the eighth (yup, another) GOP primary debate in New Hampshire on Saturday. For what might be the most pointed time in this primary season, the debate moderators and other candidates pressed Trump about his specific plans for addressing everything from healthcare to development projects. Things got intense on stage pretty quickly and Donald Trump got booed during the GOP debate after attacking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — and, by extension, the entire live audience — during a rebuttal.
The moment that left Trump telling the audience that he didn't need them (no, literally) happened during a heated exchange over eminent domain with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. ABC co-moderator Josh McElveen pressed real estate tycoon Donald Trump on eminent domain, which defined by International Business Times as a situation where governments seize private property to make way for public development projects. In his question to Trump, McElveen pointed out that the issue is at the center of a current debate for New Hampshire voters, as a proposed project to bring power from Canada into areas of the Northeast could mean using eminent domain as a tool to build the power grid.
Trump began by explaining that without eminent domain, very few public infrastructures would ever be built. But when Bush challenged the Republican frontrunner on his own past use of eminent domain, things took a turn for the ugly.
Here's Trump's explanation for why eminent domain is useful:
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, hospitals, anything. You wouldn’t have schools, you wouldn't have bridges. you need eminent domain. And a lot of the big conservatives -- they tell me how conservative they are -- they all want the Keystone Pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline without eminent domain, it wouldn’t go ten feet. You need eminent domain. And eminent domain is a good thing and not a bad thing. And what a lot of people don’t know [...] when eminent domain is used on somebody’s property, that person gets a fortune. They get at least fair market value and if they’re smart, they’ll get two or three times the value of their property.
That’s when Bush immediately fired back, accusing Trump of having a shoddy understanding of eminent domain, and criticizing the billionaire’s use of the practice, bringing up an incident where Trump reportedly used the rule in Atlantic City to take property from an elderly widow in order to build a limousine parking lot.
According to the live broadcast of the GOP debate, after Bush agreed that eminent domain for public purpose had its place, he pounced on Trump’s answer and record in New Jersey. “What Donald Trump did was try to use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City,” Bush said. “That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong.”
The Manchester, New Hampshire audience cheered in response to Bush’s statement. Trump, clearly irritated, responded, “Jeb wants to be a tough guy tonight. I didn’t take the property. The woman ultimately didn’t want to do that. I walked away and it was great that I didn’t.”
The exchange only got worse, with the candidates talking over each other to make their points. Trump shouted “quiet” at Bush and told him to “let me talk” several times. That’s when Donald Trump got booed in New Hampshire.
Rather than using the moment to cool things down, Trump then turned on the audience, saying that the people booing were “all [Bush’s] donors and special interests out there.” Between the challenging questions from the moderators, the firm pushback from his fellow competitors onstage, and the unbridled ire of the audience, it really felt like no one was on Trump's side in the room during Saturday night's GOP debate.
We’ll all have to see if insulting the debate audience just days ahead of the New Hampshire primaries proves to be a sound campaign strategy for Trump.