Trump accused of trying to steal Democrats' thunder with three-day stay at his Las Vegas hotel

President also triggers traffic snarls and extra security

Andrew Buncombe
Las Vegas
Friday 21 February 2020 01:46 GMT
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For Steffan Starcluf and Peggy Shorn, the fact that the man whose name adorned the front of their golden, glittering hotel was himself staying there, was nothing but splendid happenstance.

“We did not know about it until we got here last night and they told us,” said Mr Starcluf, a visitor to Las Vegas from Germany, who was staying at the Trump International Hotel. “It’s good. I’d like to go to dinner with him.”

It being Las Vegas, Mr Starcluf was wearing an Elvis Presley wig and the couple were on their way to one of the many locations that perform weddings overseen by an Elvis personator.

Indeed, the only inconvenience caused by the expanded security ring and secret service officers on duty, was that they had to hurry down to the street to the stretch limousine that was waiting to whisk them off to get wed.

But if the couple from Germany had no problems with the presence in Las Vegas of Mr Trump, not everyone felt that way.

Democrats, in particular, angrily denounced the president’s efforts to steal their thunder.

First, he held a huge rally in Des Moines days before the Iowa caucus, and then followed up with a second noisy event in New Hampshire.

Now, he was here in the West, with rallies in California, Arizona, Colorado, and on Friday one in Nevada itself, a short stretch limousine ride from his hotel. Moreover, Mr Trump was actually staying here for three straight nights, a rarity, and causing the sort of traffic problems and bottlenecks that also ensure you get extra coverage in the local news.

“Donald Trump is on his way to Nevada right now, just days before Democrats across our state head out to caucus for our presidential candidates,” Alana Mounce, executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party, said in an email to supporters.

Steffan Starcluf and Peggy Shorn only discovered the president was staying at his own hotel once they checked in (Andrew Buncombe )
Steffan Starcluf and Peggy Shorn only discovered the president was staying at his own hotel once they checked in (Andrew Buncombe ) (Andrew Buncombe)

“The Republican game-plan is obvious: rally Trump’s base and flood our state with MILLIONS of dollars to shore-up support for the general election while Democrats are busy picking the best nominee to take Trump on in November. But we’re not falling for it – we can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Michael Frailoli, a Democratic strategist based in Washington DC, said the the president’s intentions were all too obvious.

“He’s there to raise money, and try and get headlines,” he said.

Warren attacks 'arrogant billionaire' Bloomberg at Las Vegas debate

Reports suggested the president was feeling positive about this visit to the succession of western states.

The Associated Press said on Wednesday night, as he returned to Las Vegas from a rally in Phoenix, he invited reporters into his office aboard Air Force One to join him in watching a replay of the Democratic debate.

Upon touchdown, his motorcade jammed up the city’s traffic for more than half-an-hour as it passed the casino that had hosted the Democrats’ debate in the lead-up to the party’s Nevada caucus on Saturday.

During his speech in Arizona, he had told supporters he had been informed that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg had been strongly challenged by his Democratic rivals.

On Thursday morning, the president tweaked one of Mr Bloomberg’s quotes from the previous evening.

He tweeted: “The real winner last night was Donald Trump. I agree.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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