New Cruz Ad Slams Trump for Using Eminent Domain to Bully Old Lady

By Nancy Flory Published on February 12, 2016

The Ted Cruz campaign has released a new ad criticizing Republican front-runner Donald Trump for using eminent domain in an effort to seize an old lady’s property against her wishes.

The commercial ends by asking voters to think about what could happen should Trump win the general election: “Trump uses power for personal gain. Imagine the damage he could do as President.”

Eminent domain laws have been used for generations for public use projects. When a government entity needs to acquire private land to build a road, railroad line or pipeline, it uses the right of eminent domain to take private property and pay property owners a fair market value. But Trump partnered with his political cronies to use eminent domain in pursuit of a purely private business enterprise, trying to force Vera Coking to give up her house. The ad features Coking, the widow who owned a house standing where Trump wanted to build a parking lot for his limousines at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

One part of the commercial features clips from news interviews in which Trump was asked whether he supported taking private property for private use. Trump responds, “I am for that” and “Eminent domain is wonderful.” At another point in the commercial Trump is giving a speech and says, “Yes, we have to use the power of eminent domain.”

John Stossel, a Fox News hosts popular among libertarians for his long-running attacks on big government and cronyism, also interviewed Trump in the ad. When Stossel accused Trump of bullying the widow, Trump snapped, “Excuse me. This is a government case, this is not Donald Trump,” to which Stossel replied, “Yes it’s Donald Trump. It’s you and your cronies in government working together.”

In “My Trump Problem,” Stossel comments, “Eminent domain can be wonderful if it’s put to important public use, say, claiming land for highways, railroads or a pipeline. But Trump got New Jersey pols to use it so he’d have a better space for limousines to park.”

Will the commercial hurt Trump with voters? Hot Air’s Allahpundit questions whether one in five Americans could even define what eminent domain is, but says “that’s not the point. The message here isn’t that Trump is abusing an arcane aspect of state power for his personal gain (although that message will be absorbed by dogmatic conservatives), it’s that Trump, for all of his populist bravado, tried to roll over the little guy in the person of Vera Coking to line his pockets.”

In other words, Trump’s supporters may not care that he isn’t really conservative. But they may care that the billionaire who styles himself the populist champion of the little guy apparently likes to work with his well-connected cronies to bully the little guy when he thinks he can get away with it.


First sentence corrected to clarify that Trump only tried to seize the property; he did not succeed.

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