WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is returning to his summer vacation spot of choice, the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, a day earlier than originally planned for more than two weeks of hoped-for rest coupled with extended pursuit of his favorite leisure sport: golf.
Obama apparently was so anxious to join the hordes of lawmakers, lobbyists and others who turn Washington into a political ghost town every August that he moved up his departure. He left the White House on Friday with his wife, Michelle, and teenage daughters Malia and Sasha, instead of on Saturday as initially planned.
Obama sounded jovial as he wrapped up his duties in the White House Friday and anticipated his getaway. “I know you’ll miss me,” he joked to reporters after signing a bill preserving wilderness land in Idaho.
Obama plans no public events during the 17 days he will spend on the island situated south of Cape Cod and known as a summer hangout for the wealthy. The vacation will be his sixth on the Vineyard since taking office in 2009. Obama skipped a trip to the island during his 2012 re-election campaign.
He was returning to the same secluded estate he rented last year, a seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom property in Chilmark, on the western part of the island, and valued at $12 million, according to local news reports. The property’s amenities include a dual basketball and tennis court.
With no official appearances on the schedule, Obama will spend his time away from Washington dabbling in his usual vacation activities: leisurely rounds of golf, beach outings, hikes and bike rides with the family, and dinner with Mrs. Obama at some of the island’s top restaurants. He will travel with a cluster of top aides who will update him as developments warrant.
Obama has to be hoping for a more relaxed summer holiday.
Last year, he was forced to break his self-imposed vacation silence several times and appear before news cameras to address political developments in Iraq, the beheading of American journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants and violent protests that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting of an unarmed, 18-year-old black man by a white police officer. Obama later was criticized for heading to the golf course immediately after delivering his statement on Foley’s killing.
He also returned to the White House in the middle of last year’s vacation. There are no plans for a similar trip before Obama returns to Washington on Aug. 23.
The president heads to Martha’s Vineyard following a recent string of legal and legislative victories on trade, health care and gay marriage. Last month, he announced that the U.S. and five other world powers had reached a deal to grant Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
Obama is hoping for another legacy-shaping victory on the Iran nuclear deal and has been aggressively lobbying Congress to approve it.
Votes to determine the deal’s fate are expected in September.
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