President Obama burning midnight oil as he raises money for reelection campaign
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
The president of the United States travels in a government aircraft that contains his private cabin and bed. When Air Force One takes off and lands, all other air traffic halts. A motorcade awaits wherever he goes. And he has a staff that includes not just government aides but chefs, porters, and a personal doctor.
In short, if anyone can handle the rigors of the road, it’s him.
But President Obama has been keeping some long days lately, often due to fund-raising events for his reelection campaign. It raises the question of whether he is tiring himself out for his day job as the nation’s CEO, chief diplomat, and commander in chief.
Just today, the president awoke in San Jose, Calif., after 18 1/2 hours of travel that saw him fly to Colorado to deliver the Air Force Academy commencement address, then on to Denver for a fund-raiser - and then on to California for two more.
The pool report filed by White House reporters accompanying him shows he didn’t get to his hotel until 1:55 a.m. EDT today. That was after Marine One dropped him off at Andrews Air Force Base at 7:20 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
At 11:30 a.m. today, he began his activities with a private fund-raiser at the same hotel. He then flew off to Iowa at 1:15 p.m. for an official event in Newton touting his “To-Do List” for Congress, as well as a campaign fund-raiser in Des Moines.
He was not due to land back at the White House until 11:45 p.m.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who is on the trip, scoffed at any thought Obama was spreading himself too thin.
“No, he’s not,” Carney told the Globe in an e-mail. “You noticed his commitment to his day job included hosting weekend G8 and NATO summits at Camp David and Chicago, right?”
That is quite true, as was another long weekend of diplomacy last month when he traveled to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.
But a check of his official schedule and White House pool reports filed during the past seven weeks shows many of his late nights have been related to fund-raising activity.
For example, on March 30, Obama returned to the White House at 10:20 p.m. after attending three fund-raisers in Burlington, Vt., and Portland, Maine.
On April 10, he returned at 11:45 p.m. after a government speech at Florida Atlantic University and three fund-raisers in southern Florida.
From April 13 to April 15, he was in Colombia for the Summit, which itself was taxing. The president arrived back at the White House at 11:50 p.m. on April 15 - and then had no public events scheduled the following day.
On April 18, he returned home at 10:55 p.m. after an official visit to Ohio and two campaign fund-raisers in Michigan. He spent 2 1/2 hours in Ohio; he spent almost five hours in Michigan.
The next day, he received his daily briefing at 10:30 a.m., had one official event at 2:20 p.m. to laud the University of Alabama NCAA football championship, and then left the White House at 4:20 p.m. for a fund-raiser at the W Hotel in Washington.
On April 24, he visited North Carolina and Colorado for speeches aimed at pushing legislation to prevent a doubling of Stafford student loan interest rates. He did the same the following day in Iowa, prompting criticism that he was using official travel to boost his campaign in general election swing states.
When he landed back to the White House at 5:45 p.m. on April 25, he didn’t linger: 15 minutes later he was off to another fund-raiser at the W Hotel.
The following day, he had no public events.
On May 5, a Saturday, the president held the first official rallies for his reelection campaign. He traveled to Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Va., leaving the White House at 10:35 a.m. and returning at 6:50 p.m.
Five days later, though, his late-night activities resumed.
On May 10, the day after the president announced he was switching positions to support gay marriage, he flew to Washington state and California for a series of fund-raisers.
He lifted off from the White House South Lawn at 9:40 a.m. EDT, landed in Seattle at 2:55 p.m., and left for Los Angeles at 7:15 p.m. He immediately headed for a fund-raiser at the home of actor George Clooney, where his speech was not scheduled to begin until 10:20 p.m.
The pool report shows he did not leave Clooney’s house until 1:55 a.m. EDT on May 11, and did not arrive back at his hotel until nearly 2:30 a.m.
After sleeping, Obama awoke for a game of basketball with Clooney and “Spiderman” actor Tobey Maguire, before flying off to Reno, Nev., for an official event pushing the “To-Do List.”
All told, the president was scheduled to spend less than 90 minutes on the ground, before spending 4 1/2 hours flying home. He landed at the White House at 8:25 p.m.
On May 14, Obama flew to New York to deliver the commencement address at Barnard College and to appear on ABC-TV’s “The View,” before attending two fund-raisers.
He was scheduled to return to the White House at 9:40 p.m., but he ran early, landing around 8:30 p.m., according to that day’s pool report.
This past weekend, the president hosted the G8 and NATO summits mentioned by Carney.
He spent Friday night at Camp David for the former, before flying Saturday night to Chicago for the latter.
On Monday, he wrapped up his diplomacy at 6 p.m. EDT so he could fly to Joplin, Mo., to deliver a high school commencement address a year after the city was ravaged by tornadoes.
He left Joplin at 10:41 p.m., and landed back at the White House around 1:20 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.
He had no public events for the rest of the day, but yesterday, he traversed all four of the nation’s time zones as he flew off for one official speech and three fund-raisers - the last of which didn’t wrap up until early this morning.Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.