Biden

President Joe Biden decamped to Wilmington on Friday, escaping the White House he's likened to a "gilded cage" for a weekend at his Delaware home. It's yet another weekend away from Washington as the President has spent a noteworthy portion of his first year in office at one of his two Delaware homes or at Camp David, working remotely.

US President Joe Biden rides his bicycle in Cape Henlopen State Park on June 3, 2021, in Lewes, Delaware. © JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden rides his bicycle in Cape Henlopen State Park on June 3, 2021, in Lewes, Delaware.

A CNN analysis of Biden's public schedule indicates the President has spent a significant amount of time away from the White House, particularly on weekends, since his January inauguration. Including this weekend's trip to Delaware, Biden has taken 35 personal trips and spent all or part of 108 of his first 276 days in office at one of his Delaware homes or at Camp David in Maryland. That includes partial days, like Friday -- when he spent the day at the White House and departed in the evening.

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Sixty-nine of those 108 days away from Washington were spent at his home in Wilmington, spread over 23 visits; seven days at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, beach house over two visits; and 32 days at Camp David over 10 visits.

Typically, his chopper commute from the White House to his Wilmington home takes less than an hour, and a White House official noted that many of the partial days included Biden departing the White House at the conclusion of a normal workday on a Friday or returning to Washington before the start of a workday on a Monday.

That puts Biden ahead of the pace set by former President Donald Trump, who had spent less time at his Florida and New Jersey getaways at the same point in his presidency than Biden has spent in Delaware.

Comparing Biden and his predecessors

While most presidents have prioritized taking time away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this is the most time a president has spent away from the White House on personal travel at this point in the presidency in recent history.

By comparison, Trump had spent all or part of 61 days at either his Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster properties in Florida and New Jersey, respectively, during the same period of time, plus all or part of nine days over four visits to Camp David. Trump also visited other Trump-branded properties, including his Virginia golf club and Trump Tower in New York, nearly 100 times at this point in his time in office.

At the same point in his presidency, then-President Barack Obama, who had school-age children during his term, had taken three vacation trips spanning all or part of 15 days, according to presidential record-keeper and CBS News veteran Mark Knoller, including a visit to his home of Chicago, a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Montana with his family and a weeklong escape to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Obama had spent all or part of 25 days at Camp David over ten visits at this point, Knoller said.

And then-President George W. Bush, per Knoller's records, had taken seven trips to Crawford, Texas, spending 27 full or partial days at his family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in the first months of his presidency, and 19 visits to Camp David over 57 full or partial days, for a total of 84 full or partial days in Texas or at Camp David.

Other presidents have also made it a point to escape the confines of the White House: George H. W. Bush spent time in Kennebunkport, Maine, during his presidency; Lyndon Johnson also traveled to his Texas ranch; Franklin Roosevelt frequented Warm Springs, Georgia; Ronald Reagan visited his "Western White House" in Goleta, California; Richard Nixon went to La Casa Pacifica in California; John F. Kennedy got away to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts; and Harry Truman spent a portion of his presidency in Key West, Florida, while the White House was under renovation.

A 'gilded cage'

The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the work habits of white-collar workers, with many Americans adopting more flexible schedules and eschewing commuting five days per week to instead work from home. The White House doubles as the President's workplace and home, but Biden can work remotely with secure communications equipment and facilities anywhere he travels, and does so.

"Presidents of the United States are constantly on the job, regardless of their location; whether they're on a state visit overseas or just 100 miles from the White House for a short trip to Wilmington," White House spokesman Andrew Bates told CNN.

Bates added, "Wherever he is, the President spends every day working to defeat the pandemic, to ensure our economy delivers for the middle class -- not just those at the top -- and to protect our national security. Also, as all Americans can agree, it's important for leaders to avoid becoming ensconced in Washington, DC."

In the post-presidency, former presidents have frequently lamented the restrictions of home life at the White House, with Truman calling it "the great white jail" and Michelle Obama referring to it as "a really nice prison," making it not unusual for a president to seek respite at more familiar digs.


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