From The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign is defending his eyebrow-raising decision to spend precious campaign time promoting his business in the final days of the long presidential campaign as his poll numbers sink.

With less than two weeks left before Election Day, the Republican candidate is taking a break from campaigning Wednesday morning to formally open his new hotel in Washington. Meanwhile, he is dispatching his running mate, Mike Pence, to play political defense in Utah – which hasn’t backed a Democrat for president in 52 years.

Trump’s hotel stop follows a visit Tuesday to another of Trump’s properties, the Doral golf course outside Miami. The odd travel schedule less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election illustrates a Republican ticket pulled in two directions while Democrat Hillary Clinton surges.

Trump’s campaign manager defended the stops, arguing that rival Hillary Clinton took time off to prepare for the debates and that stops at Trump’s hotels highlight his business experience.

“Hillary Clinton took five days off to prepare for one debate and everyone looked at that as some kind of noble exercise,” she said, on NBC’s “Today” show. “He’s got the most active campaign sked of the two candidates by far.”

The appearance comes amid signs that Trump’s controversial presidential campaign has hurt his corporate brand. Rooms at the new $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. A new Facebook live show produced by his campaign has heightened speculation that Trump may try and offset any losses with advertising revenue …

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