CHILMARK, Mass. (AP) — President Barack Obama did something unusual during his summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard: He went out on the town four nights in a row.
After a better part of a decade of using this breezy Massachusetts island as a low-key, quiet summer retreat, Obama has picked up the pace this year. In his final summer vacation as president, Obama has spent almost every night of his escape painting its towns red — so to speak.
The stunner came late Sunday when the president assembled his security and press entourage to go out at nearly 11 p.m. It was a move all but impossible to imagine happening in Washington, where Obama’s occasional social outings tend to begin much earlier.
The knock against Obama in Washington is that he’s too insular and should have tried harder to woo Republican lawmakers. Obama dismisses the assertion, arguing that all the schmoozing in the world wouldn’t have changed some GOP minds.
But Obama is showing a different attitude on the Vineyard — although with immediate family and unidentified friends, not recalcitrant members of Congress. On past Vineyard vacations, the president usually would follow a late night by ending the next day before sundown.
The White House says Obama is just trying to get the most out of the time he’s spending here with family and friends before a busy fall packed with foreign and domestic travel, including an aggressive schedule of campaign appearances on behalf of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.
He’s already known around Washington as somewhat of a night owl, staying up in the White House residence into the wee hours of the morning, reading briefing papers, emailing aides and friends, and watching ESPN.
On Sunday, after Obama had already played golf for about five hours, the small group of reporters that accompanies the president in public was released for dinner, but told to reassemble at 8:15 p.m. After a two-and-a-half-hour wait, Obama’s motorcade rolled down the dirt driveway of his secluded rental in Chilmark, on the island’s western tip.
Thirty minutes later, and after a circuitous route on largely darkened roads through five of the vineyard’s six towns, the motorcade pulled up to Lola’s in Oak Bluffs, on the other side of the island. The White House said the First Family, a description signifying the inclusion of Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, had joined friends for a “social event” at the Southern seafood restaurant.
Obama socialized for about an hour before returning his family to their rented home just before 1 a.m. Monday.
He was on the move again less than 12 hours later, to play his seventh round of golf since he arrived Aug. 6.
A week earlier, the president and Michelle spent nearly four hours at dinner with friends at an Oak Bluffs restaurant before returning to Chilmark around 11:30pm.
Two days later, the couple joined friends at State Road, a restaurant in West Tisbury where the Obamas have eaten many times.
Then the vacation kicked into a higher gear on Thursday, when the president and first lady joined friends for dinner in Edgartown. They returned home at 11 p.m.
Friday brought a visit to the home of Robert Wolf, a friend and former president of the UBS investment bank, followed by an approximately two-hour, date-night at a French restaurant in Edgartown. They left at 10:20 p.m.
On Saturday, Obama and his wife stopped first at the home of Glenn Hutchins, an Obama golf partner from earlier in the week, before joining their daughters for dinner at another Oak Bluffs restaurant that stretched about 90 minutes.
Then came Sunday’s social whirlwind that kept the president out after midnight.
To be fair, Obama occasionally goes out at night when he’s at the White House, for dinner with the first lady and friends, or just alone with his wife. But never night after night after night after night.
On Monday, after nearly five hours of golf and about an hour at a Clinton fundraiser in Chilmark, Obama wrapped up his day at about 7 p.m.
Sara Brown contributed to this report.
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