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Obamas arrive on Martha’s Vineyard

Family begins 9-day vacation

By Donovan Slack
Globe Staff / August 19, 2011

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CHILMARK - President Obama escaped days of oppressive heat in the nation’s capital and landed to the cool breezes and 70-degree temperatures of Martha’s Vineyard yesterday evening to begin a nine-day vacation with his family.

But Obama will not be able to totally leave behind Washington’s political cauldron.

The president will be meeting frequently with economic advisers to discuss possible options on the foundering economy, said a White House spokesman, speaking to reporters at about the same time the Dow Jones industrial average closed after taking a 419-point hit.

Obama will also spend a chunk of his time off preparing for a national address to detail his plans to boost jobs in the short term and reduce the growth of the deficit in the long term. That speech is scheduled for after Labor Day, when Congress returns from its monthlong recess. Underscoring the working nature of Obama’s vacation, he was accompanied by White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.

It is the third straight Vineyard summer vacation for the Obamas. They are again staying at the Blue Heron Farm, a 28-acre Chilmark estate, which has a basketball court and private beach access.

The Obamas are not expected to venture off the exclusive farm very often, save for the occasional round of golf or jaunt for ice cream or books.

Before arriving on the Vineyard, Air Force One delivered Obama, accompanied by his dog, Bo, to the Coast Guard’s Cape Cod air station in Buzzard’s Bay. He met briefly with Representative William Keating, Democrat of Quincy and others, then jogged over to a crowd and held a baby in Boston Red Sox regalia.

“I don’t usually hang out with Red Sox fans,’’ said the president, who was wearing a casual, open-collar shirt.

He then hopped aboard the Marine One helicopter for the quick trip over Nantucket Sound to the Vineyard.

He left Martha’s Vineyard airport in a 15-car caravan. Dozens of families, waving and snapping photos, dotted the route, including a crowd of about 150 people gathered outside Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury. Roads were blocked off by police. Drivers and passengers in cars waiting behind the blockades craned out car windows to take photos as the caravan passed.

Before he arrived yesterday, a flurry of activity engulfed the center of Vineyard Haven. A cluster of television cameras filmed one banner outside the historic Mansion House hotel: “Having achieved much against division and dysfunction, President Obama deserves a Vineyard vacation and our thanks.’’

Another sign depicted a pair of red boxing gloves emblazoned with the slogan, “Yes, you can.’’

Down the road in West Tisbury, Maddy Stevens, 10, implored her godparents to stop the car when she saw cameras outside famed local gathering place Alley’s General Store. Over lunch later at Beetlebung Café, Stevens said it was not so much the impending presidential visit that had fueled her excitement, but rather how his arrival would boost opportunities for her to get on television.

Stevens’ godfather, Pittsburgh furniture designer Craig Marcus, said he had a few choice words for the president if he should see him.

“Make some jobs. Stop the wars. Spend money here,’’ Marcus said.

His wife, Lu, said that if she was lucky enough to see the president, she wouldn’t have anything at all to say. “I would just give him a hug,’’ she said. “He’s got a lot on his plate.’’

Donovan Slack can be reached at dslack@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.