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Barack Obama Martha's Vineyard bound?

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Following in the footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama may vacation this summer on Martha's Vineyard, we're told.

The White House wouldn't confirm the first family's vacation plans today, but word is the Obamas have rented a house for two weeks at the end of August in the East Chop neighborhood of Oak Bluffs.

"This is one of the most exciting things that will happen this year," said Fred Mascolo, owner of Trader Fred's in Edgartown and a principal of Jane Brown Real Estate Associates. "When Obama said he would fix the economy, I didn't think it would be this soon."

A presidential visit, especially one lasting two weeks, would indeed be a boon to the island economy because the president travels with a huge retinue of Secret Service, aides, and journalists. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will need housing during Obama's stay, Mascolo said. Coincidentally, the Clintons will be on the island at the same time, we hear.

"I'm comfortable telling you rumors are flying that he's coming here," said Susan Goldstein, owner of the 40-room Mansion House in Vineyard Haven. "I can also say we've had an increase in reservations during that period."

Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, likewise wouldn't confirm the president's visit, but said "we would be thrilled, of course, if the Obamas were to come this summer."

Located on the northern tip of Martha's Vineyard, Oak Bluffs has become something of an African-American enclave. Politician and pastor Adam Clayton Powell Jr., writer Dorothy West, and Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke were all early homeowners, and celebrities such as Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey are frequent visitors.

"If you're African American and not in a suit and tie in a shop on Newbury Street, there's kind of a 'what are you doing here' sort of thing," says W. Karl McLaurin. "It's not like that in Oak Bluffs because there's a long history."

McLaurin, director of marketing at the state Department of Housing and Community Development, has been spending a portion of his summer in Oak Bluffs for many years. He and his father regularly go fishing and play golf with Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law professor who is a close friend and former advisor of Obama's.

Ogletree, who has owned a place in Oak Bluffs for 15 years, has hosted Obama on several occasions. The first time was in August 2004, after the then-Illinois senator gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention.

"He would tell you I misled him," Ogletree said, laughing. "I asked him to just drop by [the Vineyard] and say hi, and then when he showed up there were all these really excited people there to meet him."

Ogletree said Obama would likely use his time on the island to read, play golf, and spend time with his wife, Michelle, and the couple's two girls, Malia and Sasha. "He'll be Mr. Dad as opposed to Mr. President," Ogletree said.

About this blog

This blog features the latest local and national celebrity news from The Boston Globe's Names column team. Check back for the latest updates.
Mark Shanahan joined The Boston Globe in 2003, having worked previously at the Portland Press Herald, where he covered City Hall, and the Lewiston Sun-Journal, where he was the education reporter. A Northampton native and graduate of Bates College, Shanahan enjoys the usual - books, music, movies, etc. - as well as the unusual.
shanahan@globe.com
Follow on Twitter: @GlobeNames, @MarkAShanahan
Meredith Goldstein has worked for the Globe since 2003, covering everything from nightlife to New Kids. She keeps her eyes peeled for celebrity juice, and also writes Love Letters, a Boston.com blog for hopeful (and hopeless) romantics. Meredith chats about love problems every Wednesday at 1 p.m. If you see Justin Timberlake or someone like him at a local eatery, please e-mail her immediately. mgoldstein@globe.com
Follow on Twitter: @GlobeNames, @MeredithGoldste

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