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Entries in Martha's Vineyard (12)

Wednesday
Aug242011

What Does the President Think About the Criticism of His Vacation?

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Libya, earthquakes, and now a hurricane, all during the president’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation. Not to mention criticism from several quarters about the 10-day holiday on this island off of Massachusetts.

So what does Mr. Obama think about all those who are saying he should get back to the capital? ABC News asked Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “This is a job that he's responsible for doing wherever he is, whether he's sitting in the Oval Office, you know, or whether he's, you know, caught on the golf course when an emerging action takes place,” Earnest said at a morning briefing. That emerging action was the latest word on Libya and Tuesday’s quake. Photographers caught the president talking in his cellphone on the Farm Neck golf course.

“He has been satisfied with his ability to do his job even in these unusual locations,” Earnest said, adding, “You know, taking advantage of an opportunity at the end of summer -- at the end of the summer, to spend some time with his wife and daughters. And I think that he's satisfied that he's been able to do both of those things over the last several days.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Obama Staying on Vacation; Will Monitor Irene

Senior Hurricane Specialist Jack Beven tracks Hurricane Irene at the National Hurricane Center on August 24, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Irene is on track to move over the Bahamas as a category 3 storm and from there cooler ocean temperatures are expected to lessen the wind speeds, but it could still be a major storm as it approaches the North Carolina coast August 27. Joe Raedle/Getty Images(MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass.) -- Not even powerful Hurricane Irene will come between President Obama and his Martha's Vineyard vacation. With the storm barrelling toward the Carolinas, the White House says preparations are well underway but the president has no plans to return to Washington D.C. early.

President Obama was briefed Wednesday morning, and paused during his golf round Tuesday to speak to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Craig Fugate.

“What we would encourage people to do is to not just listen to the instructions and advice and orders that are given by state and local officials, but to actually follow those instructions,” principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told the traveling White House Press corps in Martha’s Vineyard.

Earnest says teams have been pre-deployed to Virginia and North Carolina, and supplies of water and other essential goods have been positioned and he says residents should use Ready.gov for preparation suggestions.

FEMA was roundly criticized for its handling of Hurricane Katrina during the previous administration. But Obama, through his spokesman, suggests much is different now. Earnest says the president has “complete confidence” in FEMA Administrator Fugate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Obama Hobnobs with Elites During Vacation

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass.) -- President Obama has spent part of his family vacation on Martha's Vineyard away from his wife and daughters, schmoozing with friends on the golf course and at their private oceanfront homes.

His island entourage includes a mix of familiar faces and longtime confidants, many of whom have ties to his native Chicago, and some deep-pocket donors eager to help him win another term.

Obama has ventured to the golf course twice in the six days he's been on the Vineyard, playing with White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, aide Michael Brush and family friend Dr. Eric Whitaker.

Whitaker, a physician and executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center, is considered one of Obama's closest friends. He regularly plays with the president at a course in Washington.

Obama has shot nearly 70 rounds of golf since taking office in January 2008 Golf magazine tallies, in spite of war, a tanking economy -- and in Tuesday's case, an earthquake on the East Coast.

The presidential foursome on Saturday also included UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf, a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and a major campaign donor. Wolf gave the maximum legal contribution to Obama in 2008 and again for 2012, Federal Election Commission records show.

Off the course, Obama has spent time rubbing elbows with some of his most elite supporters, attending what the White House has described as two "informal receptions" hosted by his friends.

On Saturday, Obama visited the home of Harvard University law professor Charles Ogletree, who taught both the President and First Lady in law school and regularly summers on the island, according to local press reports.

Ogletree one day earlier co-hosted a Democratic fundraiser -- billed as "Voices for Obama" -- at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, where Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave the keynote address.

Then on Sunday, Obama traveled to the West Tisbury mansion of Comcast CEO Brian and Aileen Roberts, where he spent more than an hour mingling at an intimate gathering.

Roberts, who oversees the nation's largest cable and Internet company -- which acquired NBC and its news divisions in a media merger deal with NBC Universal earlier this year -- serves on the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. While FEC records indicate Roberts has not yet contributed to the president's reelection campaign, one of his Comcast colleagues -- executive vice president David Cohen -- is a top Obama fundraiser, bundling more than $500,000 for the 2012 campaign so far this year.

Cohen and his wife Rhonda also attended the Roberts reception, according to local media reports. The White House would not confirm the names of attendees, saying the event was private.

The White House has dismissed the suggestion that the receptions involved fundraising.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Irene Could Do What Libya, Economy Couldn't: Cut Obama's Vacation Short

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE COD, Mass.) -- The White House has scheduled its first on-camera briefing on Martha’s Vineyard during President Obama's week-long vacation there.

Despite criticism before he left Washington, D.C. for the upscale Massachusetts island community from some who argued that he should not be taking a luxurious vacation while the economy is in turmoil, the president is kicking back undeterred. He has enjoyed golf, trips to the beach with his family and shopping.

In the past few days, as war rages in Libya and an earthquake struck the nation's capital, White House officials have maintained that the president would not be changing his schedule, which has him remaining on the island until Saturday.

Could that change now, not because of criticism, but because of weather?  With Hurricane Irene, now a category 3 storm, expected to hit the Carolinas on Saturday, it remains to be seen whether the president will be forced to head home early.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

DC Quake Tremors Reach Obama on Vineyard

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass.) -- President Obama was playing golf Tuesday at the Farm Neck Golf Course on Martha’s Vineyard when the 5.8 earthquake hit the East Coast.

While the president did not actually feel the quake, many residents and vacationers on the island felt a swaying for about 15 seconds, including the White House press corps working out of a hotel in Vineyard Haven.

The quake hit at 1:51 p.m. Eastern time and the president, while on the golf course, had a conference call an hour later, according to Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. The call included DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards with the Department of Interior Dr. David Applegate, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Heidi Avery and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough to discuss the earthquake and status of critical infrastructure, according to Earnest.

Per written statement, Mr. Obama was told that there were “no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities and that there were currently no requests for assistance.”

The president will be getting regular updates on the situation, the White House spokesman said.   

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Full Remarks: President Obama Addresses Situation in Libya

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass.) -- President Obama adressed the ongoing situation in Libya Monday from Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where he is vacationing.

Here are the president's remarks, in full:


Good afternoon, everybody. I just completed a call with my National Security Council on the situation in Libya. And earlier today, I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron about the extraordinary events taking place there. The situation is still very fluid. There remains a degree of uncertainty, and there are still regime elements who pose a threat.  But this much is clear: The Gadhafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.  In just six months, the 42-year reign of Moammar Gadhafi has unraveled.


Earlier this year, we were inspired by the peaceful protests that broke out across Libya. This basic and joyful longing for human freedom echoed the voices that we had heard all across the region, from Tunis to Cairo.  In the face of these protests, the Gadhafi regime responded with brutal crackdowns. Civilians were murdered in the streets. A campaign of violence was launched against the Libyan people. Gadhafi threatened to hunt peaceful protesters down like rats. As his forces advanced across the country, there existed the potential for wholesale massacres of innocent civilians.  In the face of this aggression, the international community took action. The United States helped shape a U.N. Security Council resolution that mandated the protection of Libyan civilians. An unprecedented coalition was formed that included the United States, our NATO partners and Arab nations. And in March, the international community launched a military operation to save lives and stop Gadhafi's forces in their tracks.

In the early days of this intervention, the United States provided the bulk of the fire power, and then our friends and allies stepped forward. The Transitional National Council established itself as a credible representative of the Libyan people. And the United States, together with our European allies and friends across the region, recognized the TNC as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.  Gadhafi was cut off from arms and cash, and his forces were steadily degraded. From Benghazi to Misurata to the western mountains, the Libyan opposition courageously confronted the regime, and the tide turned in their favor. Over the last several days, the situation in Libya has reached a tipping point, as the opposition increased its coordination from east to west, took town after town, and the people of -- of Tripoli rose up to claim their freedom.

For over four decades, the Libyan people had lived under the rule of a tyrant who denied them their most basic human rights. Now, the celebrations that we've seen in the streets of Libya shows that the pursuit of human dignity is far stronger than any dictator.  I want to emphasize that this is not over yet. As the regime collapses, there's still fierce fighting in some areas, and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting. Although it's clear that Gadhafi's rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya.

As we move forward from this pivotal phase, the opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just. That the leadership of the TNC has made clear the rights of all Libyans must be respected. True justice will not come from reprisals and violence; it will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.  In that effort, the United States will be a friend and a partner. We will join with allies and partners to continue the work of safeguarding the people of Libya. As remaining regime elements menace parts of the country, I've directed my team to be in close contact with NATO as well as the United Nations to determine other steps that we can take to deal with the humanitarian impact. We're working to ensure that critical supplies reach those in need, particularly those who've been wounded.  

Secretary Clinton spoke today with her counterparts from leading nations of the coalition on all these matters, and I've directed Ambassador Susan Rice to request that the U.N. secretary-general use next month's General Assembly to support this important transition.  For many months, the TNC has been working with the international community to prepare for a post-Gadhafi Libya. As those efforts proceed, our diplomats will work with the TNC as they ensure that the institutions of the Libyan state are protected, and we will support them with the assets of the Gadhafi regime that were frozen earlier this year. Above all, we will call for an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya.  As we move forward, we should also recognize the extraordinary work that has already been done. To the American people, these events have particular resonance. Gadhafi's regime has murdered scores of American citizens in acts of terror in the past.  Today, we remember the lives of those who were taken in those acts of terror and stand in solidarity with their families.  We also pay tribute to Admiral Sam Locklear and all of the men and women in uniform who have saved so many lives over the last several months, including our brave pilots. They've executed their mission with skill and extraordinary bravery, and all of this was done without putting a single U.S. troop on the ground.

To our friends and allies, the Libyan intervention demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one. Although the efforts in Libya are not yet over, NATO has once more proven that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our democratic ideals.   And the Arab members of our coalition have stepped up and shown what can be achieved when we act together as equal partners. Their actions sent a powerful message about the unity of our effort and our support for the future of Libya.  Finally, the Libyan people: Your courage and character have been unbreakable in the face of the tyrant. An ocean divides us, but we are joined in the basic human longing for freedom, for justice and for dignity. Your revolution is your own, and your sacrifices have been extraordinary. Now, the Libya that you deserve is within your reach. Going forward, we will stay in close coordination with the TNC to support that outcome. And though there will be huge challenges ahead, the extraordinary events in Libya remind us that fear can give way to hope, and that the power of people striving for freedom can bring about a brighter day. Thank you very much.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Obama Interrupts Vacation to Be Briefed on Libya

The White House/Pete Souza(CAPE COD, Mass.) -- As opposition forces descended on Tripoli and the nearly 42-year reign of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi crumbled around him, President Obama was asked about the situation there.

“We’re going to wait until we have full confirmation of what has happened,” he said as he entered Nancy’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard Sunday evening.

Shortly after, the president issued a statement saying, "Moammar Gadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end.   Gadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya.  He needs to relinquish power once and for all."

"The United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya," Obama went on to say, adding that "the future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people."
 
Nancy’s, one of Obama's “favorite spots on the island,” according to Josh Ernest, a deputy press secretary, was the second of three stops he and the first lady made Sunday night.  The president was greeted outside the restaurant by a throng of supporters and well-wishers chanting “Four more years,” and “We love you.”  The first couple went inside for a few minutes to see some friends, Ernest said.

When they emerged, they were holding hands.  The first lady was wearing a black top with spaghetti straps and a yellow and white skirt.  The president wore a blue, short-sleeved shirt outside dark khakis.

The first couple's next stop was at the home where Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, is staying.
 
Earlier in the evening, the president and first lady attended a reception at the West Tisbury home of Aileen and Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast, a parent company to MSNBC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug202011

President Obama's Reading List on Martha's Vineyard Revealed

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(EDGARTOWN, Mass.) -- We now know how the president’s going to spend some of his downtime while vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard.

On Friday, President Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha made an impromptu stop at Bunch of Grapes, a popular island bookstore in Vineyard Haven. When they left the bookstore some 30 minutes later, Sasha emerged with a large brown paper bag, but despite several requests by tenacious reporters as to what books the president might have purchased, it took 24 hours to finally learn most of the bag’s contents.

Drum roll please:  On President Obama’s reading list were two new purchases. One was “The Bayou Trilogy,” a collection of three novels by Daniel Woodrell that features a recurring character, Det. Rene Shade, an ex-boxer turned cop. These thrillers take place in the Louisiana swamp town of Saint Bruno, according to Amazon.com, which says “there’s poetry in Woodrell’s mayhem, each novel -- and scene -- full of gritty and memorable Cajun details.”

His second purchase, “Rodin’s Debutante,” written by Ward Just, his 17th novel. This book may ring more familiar to President Obama as it takes place on the outskirts of Chicago around the mid-20th century and features an adventurous kid, Amazon says, who “tries to find a way to create art in the face of the world’s harshness.” 21st century translation: an adventurous president who tries to find a way to create a balanced budget in the face of Congress’ harshness.

The president also brought along three other books with him. “Cutting for Stone” is a novel by Abraham Verghese that spans decades and continents, from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City. “To the End of the Land,” by Israeli author David Grossman, is a novel about an Israeli mother caught up in a love triangle with two men who each fathered a son with her. The story is intertwined with the reality of decades of military conflicts in the region, described by Amazon.com as “a book of mourning for those not dead, a mother's lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight.”

Lastly, “The Warmth of other Suns,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, the only non-fiction book on the president’s list. It follows three African-Americans who fled the south as part of the “great migration,” the exodus of 6 million black Southerners.

No word yet on what the girls purchased.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug192011

First Family Visits Vineyard Main Street, Bookstore

CJ Gunther-Pool/Getty Images(VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass.) -- On the first full day of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation,  the president made his first public appearance at a well-known bookstore, “A Bunch of Grapes,” in the nearby town of Vineyard Haven.

Just after noon, rumors started swirling that he might be coming.  Within minutes, mysterious men with yellow police tape appeared on Main Street, where most of the town's business are located. They blocked off access to the bookstore’s entrance. Shortly thereafter, the presidential motorcade made its way down the narrow street to the delight of the crowds that had gathered.

Dressed in a casual short sleeved blue shirt, the president emerged with his girls, Sasha and Malia. The crowds began to cheer and scream.  Washington, D.C., resident Virlynn Adkinson, who just this morning arrived for a week’s vacation with several friends, was thrilled to get a chance to see the president in person for the first time. She scoffed at the suggestion the island is known for attracting mostly the rich and famous.

“I think there’s a perception it’s posh,” Adkinson said. “I think a lot of your middle class, average folks come here for vacation.”

As for those critics who think the president should stay at the White House working on the country’s economic problems, Adkinson wasn’t buying that. “He’s working all the time. He’s doing a little relaxing when he’s with his two girls, but for the most part he’s working. There’s too much going on in the country.”

When the president emerged from the store with his girls some 15 minutes later, he chatted and shook hands with a line of pre-selected, lucky folks who were chosen from the crowds to greet him. Many of them chanted, “Four more years! Four more years!” And then, just like that, he was gone.

Unfortunately, Adkinson and her friends weren’t as lucky but just getting to see him in person was enough. Laughing and giving her friends five, she said, “It was wonderful. It was fabulous.”

Asked if this made her vacation, she replied emphatically, “Yes!”

A Bunch of Grapes has been around for over 40 years. The family also visited there last year.  The White House press corps, coincidentally, is staying about one block away from the bookstore but that didn’t seem to deter Mr. Obama from making the trip.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug192011

Obama Begins First Full Day of Vacation

President Barack Obama receives a national security briefing from John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism, in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Aug. 19, 2011. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama's first full day of vacation on a 28-acre Martha’s Vineyard "farm" started with a National Security briefing from his counterterrorism chief John Brennan.

It appears from the official White House photo that they were sitting outside.

The White House has told the press not to expect any statements Friday, though of course that could change.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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