Donald Trump’s bizarre hotel opening proved he’s in this for himself

Was Donald Trump’s stop in Washington, DC, to open his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue a campaign event? It’s hard to say — because it’s hard to say if Trump is even still running for president.

Less than two weeks before Election Day, lagging Hillary Clinton in the polls, Trump is more determined to squeeze every last ounce of publicity from his presidential run than he is to get voters to the polls. He’s thinking past Election Day, and the future he’s envisioning isn’t in the Oval Office.

“With the notable exception of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this is the most coveted piece of real estate in Washington, the best location,” Trump said.

The ribbon-cutting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, had all the trappings of a campaign event. Secret Service agents escorted bomb-sniffing dogs across new carpets. Reporters mobbed Newt Gingrich and Jeff Sessions. Trump promised to make America great again, spinning his new hotel, once a crumbling historic landmark, into a bizarre metaphor for the nation itself.

 Above all, though, the event at the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue was a promotional stunt. Trump has always seasoned his candidacy with self-promotion — it’s part of what made his political career unprecedented and the prospect of his presidency frightening — but with 13 days left to go, he’s pitching his vision for his hotels rather than his vision for America.

Clinton is making her closing argument. Trump is making infomercials.

If Trump cared about the presidency, he’d be in Ohio

Trump tried to downplay his stop in DC. “We’re going to a lobby, we’re going to cut a ribbon, and we’re going to North Carolina!” he said at the end of his brief remarks. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway compared his brief detour to Clinton taking time off the trail to prepare for the debate.

 But preparing for a debate is a function of campaigning for president. Opening a hotel in the District of Columbia — a jurisdiction with three electoral votes that Trump will not win — at an event closed to the public is not.

The Trump hotel has been unofficially “open” since September 12. (Trump visited the site then, too.) There’s no reason a formal grand opening couldn’t have waited two more weeks. Or rather, there’s one reason: On November 9, if current trends hold, Trump won’t be trailed by a pack of journalists broadcasting his every move to billions around the world.

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