Delaware denizen: Biden outpaces predecessors on vacation time


Article happily posted for: Red Baron

by Haisten Willis

Ahead of another weekend trip to Delaware, President Joe Biden remains on pace to spend more time away from the White House than any of his recent predecessors.

Biden will head to Rehoboth Beach on Thursday evening to one of the two homes he owns in his home state. He spent more than a quarter of his first year in office in Delaware, typically on weekends, and has continued that trend in year two.

“Every time I get a chance, I go home to Delaware. You think I’m joking. I’m not,” Biden said in February.

Ahead of this weekend’s trip, Biden has spent an estimated 188 full or partial days away from the White House, with 130 spent at his Delaware properties, 52 at Camp David, and six in Nantucket.

If that pace holds, Biden will spend roughly 553 days away from the White House, which he has referred to as a “gilded cage,” over his first term, or 1,106 days over two terms.

That’s good for tops in the modern history of the presidency. Former President Donald Trump spent 381 days away from the White House while in office, and former President Barack Obama spent 328 days out over two terms. Trump referred to his trips as “working vacations” and criticized Obama as a “habitual vacationer” who spent too much time on the golf course. Trump was then called out for his own jaunts to New Jersey and Florida after taking office.

Former President George W. Bush, frequently criticized for extensive stays at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, spent 1,020 days away from the White House during his two terms, while former President Bill Clinton stayed away 345 days.

While Bush’s vacationing pace is not much lower than Biden’s, the fierce criticism he received for doing so should be seen as a cautionary tale rather than a model to follow, argues presidential historian Craig Shirley.

“There’s a public relations angle to it. If the country is in crisis, it’s better for the president to stay in the White House,” he said. “I used to get mad at Bush when he’d be seen chopping trees when the country was going through all these problems. I thought it showed an insensitivity to the needs of the American people.”

With Biden’s approval ratings hovering around 40% and even the high 30s in some polls, the same factor may apply now.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, but spokesman Andrew Bates previously stated that “presidents of the United States are constantly on the job, regardless of their location — whether they’re on a state visit overseas or just 100 miles from the White House for a short trip to Wilmington.” That statement came when it was reported that Biden became the president who spent the most time on personal travel in the inaugural year of his administration.

Shirley largely agrees, saying the burdens of office travel with the president no matter where he goes. Biden’s travel to Delaware largely mirrors his practices while a member of the Senate, when he’d take the train home to be with his family. However, the White House does not publicly share visitor records when Biden is in Delaware despite the substantial amount of time he spends there.

The Biden administration pledged to improve transparency upon taking office, including issuing visitor logs of in-person meetings on White House grounds. But that rule doesn’t extend to his home state.

“I can confirm we are not going to be providing information about the comings and goings of the president’s grandchildren or people visiting him in Delaware,” then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in August.

While presidential vacations can draw controversy, often it’s a president’s performance in office that can lead to complaints about vacation time rather than the other way around.

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