WASHINGTON — Less than two weeks before Election Day, Donald Trump on Wednesday visited the nation's capital to tout the "under budget, ahead of schedule" opening of his new luxury hotel here.
The second gathering in the chandelier-studded presidential ballroom of the GOP presidential hopeful's Old Post Office Hotel took the candidate off the trail, but his remarks made clear the campaign was not far from mind. Presenting a subdued and optimistic vision for the country, Trump and his team tried to paint the hotel's official opening as an example of the kind of vision-and-execution Trump could bring to the White House.
Surrogates gaggled outside the ballroom, towing the line of an efficient businessman that will take Washington by storm and remake it in the likeness of his company. "Everything he does he will try to drive towards under budget, ahead of schedule," Newt Gingrich told reporters.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions echoed the theme minutes later as he walked into the event. "I think part of the lift that he will get from this is this magnificent construction project on budget and under time, well under time. So it's the kind of thing America needs."
Earlier in the day Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway praised the project - and the off-trail stop - as a way to show "the tangible accomplishments of Donald Trump."
The GOP nominee spoke about seeing "untapped potential" everywhere and brought a hope that Americans would "dream big" and cast their votes for him 13 days from now.
But Trump soon found himself again engaged in a personal attack with a familiar rival, Fox News' Megyn Kelly. Kelly sparred one night earlier with Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich over coverage of Trump's sexual assault allegations from 11 women, prompting Trump to single out the former House Speaker to congratulate him on "last night."
"That was an amazing interview. That was an amazing — we don't play games, Newt, right? We don't play games," Trump said.
Trump's event is the second time he's summoned the press corps to his latest luxury hotel. Six weeks earlier Trump's hotel hosted a "soft" opening that saw him disavow his birther position without taking questions, with reporters standing on chairs to shout questions that tumbled into the air and went unanswered.