On Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was in Washington to formally open the new Trump Hotel in Washington. This set off a media chorus of, "Oh my gosh, he's taking time off from campaigning! How can he do that when he's behind in the polls?"
Meanwhile, Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton's public appearance schedule during this 2016 campaign has been among the lightest of any major-party candidate going back at least to 1964. During that time, I don't recall any candidate leaving the trail for several days prior to each of three debates, as Mrs. Clinton did in late September, early October and mid-October. Given Mrs. Clinton's light schedule, CNN's Dana Bash cluelessly questioned Trump over why "you're taking time out of swing states to go do this."
As will be seen in the latter portions of the video segment below, Trump seized on the opening, and made sure CNN's viewers were aware of the stark contrast between his schedule and Mrs. Clinton's — something the press has virtually ignored for months:
WOLF BLITZER: Breaking news. Donald Trump, speaking to CNN's Dana Bash just a few moments ago at his business event, opening his hotel officially here in Washington, DC. Dana's joining us right now. So Dana, what did he say?
DANA BASH: Well, it was a brief one-on-one discussion with him about why he is here, not on the campaign trail, and how he could potentially take advantage of some of the polls looking better for him, especially in the state of Florida. Take a listen.
(Move to prerecorded clip)
BASH: First I want to ask you about your event here. There's new audiotape of you talking about the fact that you really have relied on your popularity, and the fact that people come to your events, and that helps you with free advertising. Is that what this was about?
TRUMP: No, not at all. This is just under-budget, ahead of schedule, that's what this is. Under-budget, ahead of schedule. We built a hotel that is going to be one of the great hotels of the world. It just opened today. It officially opens today, and we built it for less money than was anticipated. And we built it ahead of schedule by over a year. And if the country would do that, we would have a country that would be in much better shape than it's - You know, highways for double and triple the cost, they build hospitals —
BASH: And so to people who say, "you're taking time out of swing states to go do this," you say?
DONALD TRUMP: I say the following. You have been covering me for the last, long time. I did yesterday eight stops and three major speeches, and I've been doing this for weeks straight. I left here, I left there for an hour and a half. I'm going to North Carolina right now, then I'm going to Florida, I'm going up to New Hampshire.
For you to ask me that question is actually very insulting, because Hillary Clinton does one stop and then she goes home and sleeps. And yet you'll ask me that question. I think it's a very rude question, to be honest with you.
And what I do I want to back my children. My children work very hard, Ivanka in particular. And at the opening of the hotel I want to back my children. Very important to me.
Trump astutely saw through the "people say" element of Bash's question — a favorite ploy of agenda-driven journalists trying to feign objectivity — and appropriately tagged her with the direct responsibility for having asked it.
And yes, it was insulting for Bash to try to claim that taking a few hours away from campaigning, given the comparative schedules of the two major-party candidates, is somehow evidence that Trump is taking his foot off the accelerator. That's especially so because Bash ended up letting Trump, as he has so often done throughout the long presidential campaign, co-opt her to advertise a point quite relevant to the election — that his organization has gotten projects done on time and under budget. The only think Trump could have done better is name a specific government project whose budget went haywire. My nominee would be the disastrous, cronyism-riddled 2013-2014 implementation of Obamacare.
At least Bash recognized that the state polling news for Trump on Wednesday was pretty decent. The Associated Press, while playing the same time away from the campaign theme Bash played in a Wednesday afternoon dispatch, wouldn't even acknowledge that. Intead, reporters Jill Colvin and former Journolist member Lisa Lerer acted like Trump's hotel ribbon-cutting was part of an "unusual travel schedule" hurting his campaign:
With his White House dreams increasingly in question, Donald Trump is spending precious campaign time promoting his private business in the final weeks of the long race. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is using his appearances to undermine his business credentials out on the campaign trail, accusing him of having "stiffed American workers."
Less than two weeks before Election Day - and with polls showing him trailing in many battleground states - Trump took a break from campaigning Wednesday morning to formally open his new hotel in Washington. His remarks at the hotel, which has struggled to fill rooms amid the controversy surrounding his presidential bid, followed a visit Tuesday to another of his properties, the Doral golf course outside Miami.
... 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.
Rooms at the overhauled $212 million hotel that bears his name at Washington's Old Post Office Pavilion have been heavily discounted and smartphone data suggest fewer people are visiting his properties compared to rival venues nearby.
... Trump supporters defended the stops, arguing they show how he would govern as president.
"I think there was a symbolic message here that if you want business as usual and bureaucracy as usual, vote Hillary," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump backer.
Note that the AP pair never properly named the new property — Trump Hotel — only calling it the "hotel that bears his name." They also seemed to be rooting pretty hard for the venture and his "corporate brand" to fail.
Later paragraphs focused how Hillary Clinton is planning her transition into the presidency, including "strict ethics rules on how lobbyists may participate on her team." Weren't we promised the same thing eight years ago, only to see all semblance of "rules" disappear? Why, yes — and those promises were either broken — an admission even the left-wing Politifact has made — or made meaningless.
Mrs. Clinton is still playing the deplorables card and insulting Trump supporters — though not hanging percentages on it:
"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.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.