Slabs of raw "Trump" steaks, piled onto wooden cutting boards by staff, sat prominently on tables that flanked the stage where he spoke. Behind the steaks stood full cases of "Trump" bottled water, and adjacent were various champagnes and wines from the Trump Winery. Grand crystal chandeliers hung overhead.
“We have water and it's a very successful — you know, it's a private little water company and I supply the water for all my places and it's good. But it's very good,” Trump said, pointing animatedly toward one table. “Trump steaks. Where are the steaks? Do we have steaks? We have Trump steaks.”
The real estate mogul seemed intent on undermining critics like 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has sought to discredit his business acumen.
“He inherited his business, he didn’t create it,” Romney said during a speech in Salt Lake City last week. “And whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks and Trump Mortgage.”
“A business genius he is not,” Romney added.
With Trump pulling out victories in yet another set of diverse states Tuesday night, the focus of the evening could have been on Trump’s growing grip on the Republican presidential nomination. Or on his electoral endurance even amid an endless barrage of attack ads. Or on his growing gestures to the Republican establishment.
Instead, many of his critics mocked him, saying he sounded like an infomercial. Others remained skeptical about whether the steaks were truly associated with any of his companies.
“I want to put that to rest. You have the water, you have the steaks, you have the airline that I sold — I mean what’s wrong with selling? Every once in a while you can sell something,” Trump said. “You have the wines and all of that. Trump University, we’re going to start it up once I win the lawsuit.”
At one point Trump walked over to the table and grabbed a copy of The Jewel of Palm Beach, a magazine that he distributes at all his clubs. He held it up triumphantly and sighed heavily.
The spectacle was no mere distraction — though, admittedly, it drew away from Trump’s own significant primary victories. The Trump campaign is, at its core, inseparable from the broader Trump brand. And his candidacy has always been propelled by the force of his own marketing.
And, Trump said, he thinks that will continue helping him in battleground states during the general election.
“On the Potomac River we have one of the great places in the world,” he told the crowd. ”I have a lot of employees in Virginia. and it seems that when I have something in a location … When you have property in a state it means you love the state.”
“It means you have a lot of employees. You pay these employees. You take care of their health care. You take care of their education for their families. You take care of so many things,” he added.
Dressed in cocktail attire, audience members looked on in delight.