Golf or beach? Presidential vacations to change again after Obama
By Jeff Mason
EDGARTOWN, Mass. (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has had Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard. His predecessor, George W. Bush, had Crawford, Texas.
Presidential vacations are a part of White House life and a staple of the American summer. Once a new president is sworn in on Jan. 20, the annual get-away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will change again.
Republican nominee Donald Trump, who owns properties all over the world, is not big on vacations. “Mr. Trump prefers to work!” his spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in an email.
The real estate mogul would have plenty of options if he did decide he needed a break from the pressures of Washington.
“He has golf resorts all over the place. He doesn’t need to go to somebody else’s place for vacation. He can go home,” said Lawrence Knutson, author of “Away From the White House: Presidential Escapes, Retreats, and Vacations.”
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee and former secretary of state, also is known as a workaholic but she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, do take time off.
When she was first lady, the Clintons reportedly tested vacation destinations with political polls. They are frequent visitors on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, where she is expected to attend a fundraiser in coming weeks.
Many presidents have had properties of their own for summer holidays. George W. Bush cleared brush on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. His father, George H.W. Bush, fished near the family compound off Kennebunkport, Maine. President Ronald Reagan rode horses on his California ranch.
President John F. Kennedy played touch football on the lawn at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, not far from Martha’s Vineyard.
The Obamas have a house in Chicago but do not vacation there. In December they go to Hawaii, where he was born.
In August they visit the Vineyard, where sightings of Obama on the golf course, first lady Michelle at restaurants, or his daughters Sasha and Malia getting ice cream or buying books are familiar and draw tourists.
The annual visit has been good for local business. The president and his family are trailed by more than 100 Secret Service agents, staff members, and journalists as they zip around the island. Their presence in 2009 alone created an economic stimulus in the midst of a global recession.
Islanders have grown excited about rumors that the Obamas and, more recently, the Clintons were house shopping here. “In my dreams,” said Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, adding there has been no firm evidence of any impending presidential home purchases.
Island residents are respectful of celebrities and the area leans Democratic politically.
“Welcome Back, First Family,” proclaimed one sign as Obama’s motorcade sped by on Sunday. Crowds of people lined up to get a glimpse of him and the first lady later that night after they dined at a restaurant.
A White House official noted that vacation options for Obama will increase dramatically after he leaves office in January.
That may or may not bode well for the Vineyard. He already knows the golf courses here very well.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Trott)