- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2016

Here comes fabulous: Donald Trump’s new luxury hotel in the nation’s capital is monumental, sumptuous and could prove an effective campaign tool for the Republican presidential front-runner in the future. It’s also opening two years ahead of schedule. With much ado, the mighty doors swing open in September, a mere six blocks from the White House. What was once simply called the Old Post Office Building is now, for the most part, meticulously restored in “American design aesthetic,” boasting 263 guest rooms with 16-foot ceilings, glittering chandeliers, soaring windows and a palette of federal blue, ivory, soft gold and deep red. The signature “Trump Townhouse” suite — all 6,300 square feet of it — has a private entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue and is already described as “the largest and most luxurious suite in Washington, D.C.” The suite is about six times the size of the Oval Office, incidentally.

Mr. Trump has dropped $200 million on the redevelopment of this 1899 Romanesque structure — the fourteenth in his collection of international hotels. Does he have a date in mind, perhaps? At 13,200 square feet, the Presidential Ballroom will also be the largest in town, and a prime spot for an inauguration gala when the time comes on Jan. 20, 2017.

The developers have studied D.C.’s political culture and deal making habits, no doubt. “The mornings will belong to power breakfasts on Pennsylvania Avenue at the Trump Hotel. Come lunch and dinner, beef will rule the menu,” notes an advisory.

“For decades people have looked in wonderment at the magnificence of the Old Post Office building and structure,” says Mr. Trump himself, in full real estate mogul mode. “There is nothing like it, and we are so proud to have not only brought this incredible building back to life, but also to a position far greater than it ever was at its previous zenith.”

FOR THE LEXICON

#StillRanding

— New Twitter hashtag to unite fans of former Republican 2016 hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, who dropped out of the 2016 race last week. “Brushfires of liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I,” Mr. Paul said of his own campaign. The grass-roots zeal persists. Other trending hashtags include #UnitedWeRand and #RandWagon.

WHO’S THROWING A PARTY TUESDAY NIGHT?

Maybe there will be cake. Nine presidential hopefuls will stage some sort of victory celebration — or reasonable facsimile thereof — in New Hampshire on Tuesday night. But if attendance is sparse, it could make for a sad photo-op. Among Republicans, six have chosen Manchester — home to the state’s major airport — as their venue. Not much variety in the party themes, either: Donald Trump hosts a “Primary Watch Party” at the Executive Court Banquet Facility, Sen. Marco Rubio throws a “Primary Night Celebration” at the Radisson Hotel, and Jeb Bush stages an “Election Night Event” — yes, that’s what he’s calling it — in the multipurpose room at Manchester Community College. Also in town: Carly Fiorina’s “Primary Night Party” at the Derryfield Country Club and ever hopeful Jim Gilmore’s “Primary Night Celebration” at Fratello’s Italian Grille.

Gov. John Kasich has his “Primary Election Night Party” at Grappone Conference Center in Concord, while Gov. Chris Christie hosts an “Election Night Party” at the Radisson Hotel Nashua in Nashua.

By Wednesday’s end, all the GOPers will be bound for South Carolina — and yet another GOP debate on Saturday, this one hosted by CBS.

And the two Democrats? Hillary Clinton has a “Primary Night Party” at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, while likely Democratic victor Sen. Bernard Sanders hosts “Primary Night Watch Party” at a high school in Concord.

AND SPEAKING OF PRESIDENTS

Just arrived: “9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America — and Four Who Tried to Save Her” by historian Brion McClanahan, who chronicles how past presidents snatched power throughout the years, “paving the way for the our current president to dismiss constitutional restrictions for his own gains.” Mr. McClanahan, author of “The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution,” says he judges these presidents on the only true standard: “Did they keep their oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? And if not, where did they go off the rails?” The new book is published by Regnery History.

RALPH NADER’S MOTHER’S ADVICE

Veteran consumer activist and onetime presidential hopeful Ralph Nader looks askance at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who still refuses to reveal what she said in those $250,000 speeches before powerful interest groups.

“Before Hillary Clinton departs from New Hampshire on Tuesday, the voters themselves who meet her can insist that she tell them just what she told those business magnates on Wall Street. She has a large staff and good files for fully and promptly responding to lifting this strange curtain of secrecy around closed speeches for big fees,” counsels Mr. Nader, who will turn 82 at month’s end.

“Her laughing off any such questions is not the way, as I recall, New Hampshirites expect candidates to treat them. My mother always had a way with getting answers from candidates she met. On shaking hands with a candidate, she did not let go of the candidate’s hand until she got her answer,” recalls Mr. Nader, who offered his advice to the locals in a special editorial for the Concord Monitor, a newspaper in the Granite State capital.

POLL DU JOUR

91 percent of Americans have “learned” about the 2016 presidential campaign in the last week from an array of media sources.

78 percent get their election information from a TV-based source like local or cable news.

65 percent get their information from a digital source such as a social networking site or news website.

44 percent get their information from radio; 36 percent get their information from a printed newspaper source.

20 percent get their information from the candidate or from campaign websites or emails.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 3,760 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 18-27.

Huzzahs and hisses to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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