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Donald Trump defends his vocal support for eminent domain: ‘I think it’s a wonderful thing’

Donald Trump says eminent domain is misunderstood. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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Even though it's a stance not especially popular with some Republicans, Donald Trump continued to support eminent domain in an interview on Tuesday, calling it "a wonderful thing" that has unfairly received a bad rap.

Trump, a billionaire known for his major real estate development projects, described eminent domain as a useful tool that local governments can use to prevent greedy homeowners from derailing major projects that could create thousands of jobs or provide a public good. Trump said that some conservatives don't fully understand how eminent domain works and don't realize that homeowners are usually paid "four, five, six, ten times" what their property is actually worth.

"Eminent domain, when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it's a wonderful thing," Trump said during an interview with Fox News's Bret Baier that aired Tuesday evening. "And remember, you're not taking property… you're paying a fortune for that property."

Trump's support of eminent domain, along with his use of the practice professionally, has prompted some criticism from conservatives.Republican presidential rival Rand Paul has slammed Trump over his eminent domain views, calling the mogul “a big fan” of the practice who has “shown no consideration for small private property owners."

The super PAC for the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative advocacy group, recently aired television advertisements in Iowa that accuse Trump of supporting "eminent domain abuse" that would allow him to "make millions while we lose our property rights." Trump said the Club for Growth's attacks have come only because he refused to donate $1 million to their cause. He added that the spots are "not right" and do not accurately explain eminent domain.

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Trump said that "nobody knows this better than I do because I built a lot of buildings in Manhattan." Quite often, he said, a majority of homeowners living near a planned project will gladly agree to sell their homes for above-market prices -- but there's often one holdout who refuses to sell right away.

"Most of the time, they just want money, okay?" Trump said. "It's very rarely that they say: 'I love my house, I love my house, it's the greatest thing ever,' because these people can go buy a house now that's five times bigger and in a better location."