Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks on the campaign trail have prompted Democratic lawmakers from New York, California and several blue states in between to propose cutting business ties with the billionaire.
But one prominent Democrat has made clear that when it comes to Trump, the business and tax money he can drive into town trumps whatever “idiotic” things he might say about immigrants or prisoners of war.
And of all places, that town is Washington, D.C.
As state lawmakers in California have proposed divesting from Trump businesses, and New York has begun reviewing contracts with the real estate mogul, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Tuesday said in a nationally televised interview that she still wants Trump’s mega luxury hotel built on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks from the White House.
“Listen, that hotel is very important to how we revitalize our main street, Pennsylvania Avenue,” Bowser said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Trump’s recent comments disparaging Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for being captured during the Vietnam War have prompted a backlash even among Republicans. Against that backdrop, the cautious remarks by the District’s mayor amount to a rare sign of financial, if not political, pragmatism.
Latino activists have begun challenging the District mayor’s pro-Trump hotel stance, and they say Bowser hasn’t realized the potential fallout for the city if the hotel becomes a national rallying point for Latino political causes.
“We’re calling on the mayor to speak out … and to oppose this hotel. This is a voter’s issue for Latinos not just in D.C. but nationally,” said Claudia Barragan, spokeswoman for the D.C. Latino Caucus.
Spanish-American chef Jose Andres has already backed out of plans to open a flagship restaurant at the hotel, and Barragan said Latino groups from across the D.C. region, including in neighboring Maryland and Virginia, plan to promote boycotts of the hotel, which is scheduled to open during the 2016 presidential election.
For Barragan, Bowser hasn’t gone far enough. Bowser has repeatedly used the word “idiotic” over the last month to describe Trump’s comments disparaging immigrants, including his claim that many are “rapists.”
The mayor has also sought to portray herself as having no role or voice in the development of the hotel, which will replace a popular tourist trap in an iconic 1890s building known as the Old Post Office Pavilion.
Although she has forcefully criticized the federal government for other decisions that affect the city, Bowser on MSNBC on Tuesday continued to suggest she has no standing to contest a federal agency’s decision to let Trump build the $200-million hotel.
“The building belongs to the federal government, they selected the Trump Corporation to revitalize it, and it’s going to be key” to the city’s downtown, she said. Bowser said her only demand on the Trump deal is that it gets done on time to begin benefiting the city in 2016.
“Certainly I wish that Donald Trump wasn’t saying some of the pretty horrible things that he said recently,” Bowser said. “We are calling on the federal government to make sure that that hotel is developed on time and delivers for the people of the District of Columbia.”
Barragan said that might not be the best idea.
“Our concern about economic development — once it’s built or if it’s built — is that there will be continued protests and boycotts,” she said. “Is it really going to be a benefit for the city if people don’t use the hotel?”