WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump says his new Washington hotel serves as a testament to why he should be president. Hillary Clinton says Trump is "the poster boy for everything wrong with our economy."
"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."
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.
In Charlotte later Wednesday, 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 reinvestment of 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 at his Washington hotel, 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.
Trump supporters defended his strategy, blasting critics for not making as big a deal of Clinton's decision to attend an Adele concert Tuesday night.
"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.
Clinton told reporters: "I was struck today that Donald Trump was paying more attention to his business than to the campaign. That's his choice but we're going to keep working really hard to reach as many voters as possible."
Still, Clinton 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 retooling 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."
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in Washington and Ken Thomas in Tampa, Florida, contributed.