Trump: I’ll run Amer­ica like my busi­ness

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Lisa Lerer and Jill Colvin

WASH­ING­TON >> His pres­i­den­tial dreams in­creas­ingly in ques­tion, Don­ald Trump pushed his busi­ness em­pire to the cen­ter of his po­lit­i­cal cam­paign Wed­nes­day. Tak­ing a break from bat­tle­ground states, he made the case at his new­est ho­tel that all Amer­i­cans should look to his cor­po­rate record for ev­i­dence of how well he’d run the coun­try.

Hil­lary Clin­ton agreed, but not the way he meant it. She used cam­paign events in Florida to at­tack the GOP nom­i­nee for hav­ing “stiffed Amer­i­can work­ers,” say­ing he built his em­pire with Chi­nese-man­u­fac­tured steel, over­seas prod­ucts and la­bor from im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally.

“Don­ald Trump is the poster boy for ev­ery­thing wrong with our econ­omy,” she told sev­eral thou­sand sup­port­ers in Tampa, Florida. “He re­fuses to pay work­ers and con­trac­tors.”

Trump’s po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions have long been deeply in­ter­twined with pro­mot­ing his cor­po­rate goals. He an­nounced his cam­paign in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower in Man­hat­tan and has held dozens of cam­paign events at his own prop­er­ties. His re­marks at his new Wash­ing­ton ho­tel, which has strug­gled to fill rooms amid the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing his pres­i­den­tial bid, fol­lowed a visit Tues­day to his Doral golf course out­side Mi­ami.

“Un­der bud­get and ahead of sched­ule. So im­por­tant. We don’t hear those words so of­ten, but you will,” said Trump, link­ing the ho­tel re­de­vel­op­ment — just blocks from the White House — to his promised per­for­mance as pres­i­dent. “To­day is a metaphor for what we can ac­com­plish for this coun­try.”

Though the GOP nom­i­nee fo­cused his re­marks on his po­lit­i­cal mes­sage, the event was heavy with mar­ket­ing, too. Stand­ing un­der glittering chan­de­liers, top com­pany ex­ec­u­tives, in­clud­ing his daugh­ter, touted the ho­tel. And af­ter his brief speech, Trump and his fam­ily headed to the ho­tel’s grand lobby where they cut a wide red rib­bon with golden scis­sors be­fore he flew to North Carolina for what his cam­paign billed as an ur­ban pol­icy speech.

In Char­lotte, Trump un­veiled what he billed a “New Deal for black Amer­ica” in front of a mostly white crowd. Trump, who has strug­gled to earn the sup­port of mi­nor­ity vot­ers, be­moaned that “too many African-Amer­i­cans have been left be­hind and un­veiled a hand­ful of new pro­pos­als aimed at re­vi­tal­iz­ing im­pov­er­ished ur­ban ar­eas.

They in­cluded new tax in­cen­tives for in­ner cities, new mi­cro-loans for African Amer­i­cans to start com­pa­nies and hire work­ers and rein­vest­ing money from sus­pended refugee pro­grams in in­ner cities.

He also wants cities to be able to seek fed­eral disas­ter des­ig­na­tions to help them re­build in­fra­struc­ture, de­mol­ish aban­doned build­ings and in­vest in law en­force­ment.

As Trump cut the rib­bon, Clin­ton was slam­ming his busi­ness prac­tices in Florida, a state he must win to have any chance on Nov. 8. In Tampa, she was in­tro­duced by restaurateur Jose An­dres, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen who pulled out of the Wash­ing­ton ho­tel to protest Trump’s anti-im­mi­grant rhetoric. Trump and An­dres are cur­rently locked in lit­i­ga­tion over the deal.

Trump’s un­usual travel sched­ule, com­ing amid signs that the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing his cam­paign has hurt his cor­po­rate brand, raises ques­tions about whether the GOP nom­i­nee has be­gun to turn some of his fo­cus to post­elec­tion plans.

Rooms at the over­hauled $212 mil­lion ho­tel that bears his name at Wash­ing­ton’s Old Post Of­fice Pav­il­ion have been heav­ily dis­counted and smart­phone data sug­gest fewer peo­ple are vis­it­ing his prop­er­ties com­pared to ri­val venues nearby. A new Face­book live show pro­duced by his cam­paign has height­ened spec­u­la­tion that he may try and off­set any losses with ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue from a new a me­dia net­work — a plan he de­nies.

Trump sup­port­ers de­fended his strat­egy, blast­ing crit­ics for not making as big a deal of Clin­ton’s de­ci­sion to at­tend an Adele con­cert on Tues­day night. Trump took a break from cam­paign­ing to see the singer per­form dur­ing the GOP pri­maries.

“I can’t take one hour off to cut a rib­bon at one of the great ho­tels of the world? I mean, I think I’m en­ti­tled to it,” he said, in an in­ter­view with ABC News. He was more de­fen­sive in a CNN in­ter­view in which he called ques­tions about his time away from swing state cam­paign­ing “in­sult­ing” and “rude.”

In Char­lotte, Trump said that he’d wanted “to be there for my chil­dren who worked so hard.”

Clin­ton, too, has turned some of her fo­cus to what hap­pens af­ter Nov. 8, though her ef­forts as­sume she wins. Deep in tran­si­tion plan­ning, she’s also be­gun ex­pand­ing the scope of her cam­paign to help down-bal­lot Democrats — her party sees an op­por­tu­nity to win con­trol of the Sen­ate and re­duce its deficit in the House — and re­tool her cam­paign mes­sage to em­pha­size uni­fy­ing the coun­try af­ter a di­vi­sive race.

“What Trump has done is to make it pos­si­ble for peo­ple who had racist, sex­ist and all kinds of prej­u­dices and big­otry to put them right out there,” Clin­ton said on “The Break­fast Club,” a syn­di­cated ra­dio show based in New York City. “I’m not go­ing to be able to wave a magic wand and change ev­ery­body’s thoughts.”

Wed­nes­day was the can­di­date’s 69th birth­day, a mile­stone she started cel­e­brat­ing a day early on Univi­sion’s en­ter­tain­ment news show “El Gordo y La Flaca,” where she was feted with a bot­tle of tequila and a large cake fea­tur­ing her face. In her ap­pear­ance on “The Break­fast Club,” pop­u­lar with African-Amer­i­can vot­ers, singer Ste­vie Won­der ser­e­naded the woman he called “Madam Pres­i­dent Clin­ton.”

Trump, mean­while, dis­patched his run­ning mate, Mike Pence, to play po­lit­i­cal de­fense in Utah — a state that hasn’t backed a Demo­crat for pres­i­dent in 52 years.

Be­sides Utah, Pence also was stop­ping in the swing states of Ne­vada and Colorado be­fore head­ing Thurs­day to solidly Repub­li­can Ne­braska, a state that awards some of its elec­toral votes by con­gres­sional dis­trict. His rally in Omaha seemed aimed at shoring up sup­port in the one dis­trict that Clin­ton could po­ten­tially win.

MANUEL BALCE CENETA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump, to­gether with his fam­ily, from left, Don­ald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Trump, Me­la­nia Trump, Tif­fany Trump and Ivanka Trump, cut the rib­bon dur­ing the grand open­ing of Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton, Wed­nes­day. Don­ald Trump and his chil­dren hosted an of­fi­cial rib­bon cut­ting cer­e­mony and press con­fer­ence to cel­e­brate the grand open­ing of his new ho­tel.

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