With just over two weeks to go until the US election , Donald Trump took time off from the campaign trail on Wednesday to open his newest hotel.
The Republican candidate took the opportunity to boast that the $200million, five-star property was an example of his business success and ability to “get things done” for the American people.
But the presidential hopeful’s 11th-hour detour to plug his business success was criticized by some of his fellow Republicans .
Formally opening the Trump International Hotel in Washington, the 70-year-old said he would bring the same principles to running the federal government as he did in real estate.
He said: “My theme today is five words: under budget and ahead of schedule. That’s what we do.
“This is what I want to do for our country. A project like this demonstrates what is possible when a team works together for a totally common purpose.
“It also shows how to work with government and to get things done.”
Trump said that, after a successful business career, he wanted to “give back” and embark on a national plan of revitalisation for poor communities and ailing infrastructure.
“The American people know what this election is about and they see it every time they get their healthcare bills in the mailbox or ride down a highway that’s broken or go to an airport that looks like it’s from a Third World country,” he said.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said in several television interviews that the Washington event would not take away focus from the campaign and was “a quick pit stop.”
Asked after the event why he was in Washington instead of campaigning in a battleground state, Trump told CNN it was “a very rude question” and said he worked hard on the trail every day.
“I can’t take one hour off to cut a ribbon at a one of the great hotels of the world? I mean, I think I’m entitled to it,” Trump told ABC News.
He said there was a double standard, noting that Clinton was not criticized for taking time to see the singer Adele in concert on Tuesday night.
“It’s so unfair because, you know, Hillary Clinton goes to see an Adele concert last night, and everybody says, ‘Oh, wasn’t that nice. Isn’t that wonderful?'” Trump said.
“Nobody complains when she goes to an Adele concert all night long, while I’m making two speeches at rallies with, you know, massive crowds.”
But Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who led 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s campaign, said the hotel stop was the latest inexplicable act from Trump and was a typical behavior for someone trying to win the White House.
“The walls are collapsing,” Schmidt told MSNBC in an interview.
“He is not doing any of the normal activities that you’d be doing 13 days out in a presidential race for somebody who’s competitive. You don’t take a time-out to tend to your business interests.”
Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives and one of the few prominent Republicans who has continued to actively back Trump’s tumultuous campaign, said Trump’s appearance hit the right message.
He said: “I think it’s a good campaign event because it emphasizes under budget and ahead of schedule, and why a Trump government would be different from the bureaucratic, wasteful, slow system we have today.”
Trump’s 263-room luxury hotel in Washington’s Old Post Office building, about a mile from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, has not escaped controversy during preparations for its launch.
The whole Trump family turned out to support the presidential candidate
Critics have also organized protests in front of the hotel. Earlier this month, its facade was sprayed with graffiti, NBC News reported.
From Washington, Trump was headed for campaign events in North Carolina, one of the key states that could determine who wins the White House.