Heard on the Hill

Trump Leverages Campaign to Talk About D.C. Hotel

Campaign-organized event features little about project itself

   

UNITED STATES - MARCH 21 - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a brief tour at the construction site for the Trump International Hotel, at the Old Post Office Pavilion in downtown Washington, D.C., Monday, March 21, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Donald Trump is surrounded by cameras as he gives a tour at the site of the Trump International Hotel being built in Washington. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Most construction sites would never get this much media attention. Then again, few are historic buildings being renovated into a luxury hotel by the Republican presidential front-runner.  

Reporters and a throng of television and still cameras poured into the unfinished main hall of the Old Post Office, which Donald Trump's hotel company has gutted to transform into a signature property just blocks from the building where the real estate developer hopes to reside come 2017.  

It was, in a sense, Trump leveraging his campaign to promote his hotel.  

"We're building one of the biggest ballrooms in Washington, and by far the most luxurious ballroom," Trump said. "It's actually the largest luxury ballroom in Washington."  

On that, Trump stuck to a talking point, as a Trump employee pointed out after the fact that the luxury qualifier was important there (one presumes that space at the Washington Convention Center or the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue might still take the cake when it comes to square footage).  

The outlets in attendance ran the gamut of U.S. and international media, and with concrete dust in the air and active construction going on around him, Trump held court, with reporters seated in two sections between bottles of Trump-branded spring water.  

Trump said the hotel was set for delivery in September, ahead of schedule and on budget, with the salesmanship he uses on the campaign  trail on full display, right down to the faucets.  

"We've gone to a very much higher degree of finishes and marbles, and fixtures and bathroom fixtures and windows, etc.," Trump said. "It's a great thing for the country. It's a great thing for Washington."  

"I think when it's completed it will truly be one of the great hotels of the world, and that's what we're looking forward to," Trump said.

The news conference itself featured a customary array of questions that might be expected in any other venue, with Trump at one point predicting he could win New York in a general election and brushing off concerns about the possibility of Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winning Utah, as a new  poll suggested.

The event, sandwiched between a meeting with members of Congress at the Capitol Hill offices of the law firm Jones Day and a Trump speech at AIPAC in the evening, featured not a single critical question about the operations of the hotel itself, despite past reporting from the Washington Post and other outlets about the immigration status of construction workers.  

After the news conference, Trump took the assembled media into the ballroom of the facility, still under construction with floors remaining to be laid down and sheet rock still to be installed to form the walls, one reporter who climbed atop a stack of sheet rock was promptly scolded.  

Throughout, Trump continued to speak about his campaign, saying that he would be on Pennsylvania Avenue "one way or the other."  

Contact Lesniewski at nielslesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.