NEW YORK (AP) — Facing questions about meager fundraising, slipping poll numbers and campaign instability, Donald Trump is tending to business — in Scotland.
In his first international trip since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump plans to check on a pair of his championship golf resorts. Some Republicans worry that the billionaire’s attention is divided between his businesses and his campaign
“I’m not sure what the purpose of the trip is,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who added that he hopes Trump “would get back here quickly.”
Trump’s son, Eric, who oversaw the two-year, more than $300 million renovation at the Trump Turnberry golf course, dismissed those concerns, saying “the eyes of the world” will be on his father during a two-day stay in Scotland that begins Friday.
“The Turnberry course is one of the crown jewels of the golf world and is now one of the crown jewels of our family’s properties,” Eric Trump said this week in an interview with The Associated Press. “He’s over there to inspect the course and to support his son who put a tremendous amount of time and energy into the project.”
Trump’s first stop Friday morning will be in Turnberry, which is nestled along Scotland’s western rocky coast and has been in use for more than a century. The site, which Trump bought in 2014, has hosted four British Open championships, was used as an airplane landing strip during both world wars and features a lighthouse that stands on the ruins of a 13th century castle.
He will visit another course he owns, in Aberdeen, on Saturday before returning to the United States after just 36 hours.
“It’s a brief but important visit and then he will be back on the campaign trail,” Eric Trump said.
The trip comes at a precarious time for the United Kingdom. Trump is expected to arrive a day after Britons vote on whether to remain in the European Union. But it comes during what should be rare quiet days in the presidential campaign, with his likely rival, Hillary Clinton having no planned events.
Trump does not have any meetings scheduled with Scottish political leaders, his campaign said. That stands in contrast to previous presidential nominees’ foreign trips. In 2012, for instance, Mitt Romney met with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Then-Sen. Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2008.
Trump is slated to hold a news conference while in Scotland and could weigh in on Britain’s “Brexit” vote. The celebrity businessman said this week he supports Britain’s exit from the EU.
“I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much,” he told Fox Business Network this week, “but my inclination would be to get out, you know, just go it alone.”
Tensions around the vote grew last week when Jo Cox, a member of Britain’s Parliament who was a vocal supporter of the UK remaining in the EU, was murdered. The man accused in the slaying later said “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain” when asked in court to state his identity.
Trump, whose mother was born in Scotland, has long emphasized his ties to the country, but he has waged several battles with those in his ancestral homeland. Earlier this year, he was stripped of an honorary degree from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
Trump was initially welcomed by Scottish leaders. But relationships soured as arguments ensued over a nearby wind farm and the levels of investment promised. Trump feared the wind farm would block the view from his course. He claimed he had received assurances that it would not be built. Trump denounced a leading Scottish politician, Alex Salmond, as “an embarrassment to Scotland.”
Trump also faced opposition from environmental groups concerned about development on Aberdeen’s famed dunes and local people who refused to make way for the development. This was captured in a documentary, Tripping Up Trump.
Trump’s trip also comes just days after he dismissed his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and reported having just $1.3 million in cash on hand at the start of June, more than $41 million behind Clinton. But some of his allies insisted the trip would not be a distraction.
“A presidential candidate has every right to take a few days off and be with his family,” said Ed Cox, the chair of the New York State Republican Party. “Besides, the general election doesn’t really start until the convention next month. He has plenty of time.”
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Mary Clare Jalonick contributed reporting from Washington.