Obama’s Low-Key Memorial Day Weekend

May 30, 2010 7:51pm

From Jon Garcia:

After flying to the Gulf coast to view perhaps the “biggest environmental disaster” the United States has ever faced on Friday, President Obama maintained a fairly low-profile Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. 

Obama’s Saturday started with an 8:45 a.m. visit to the University of Chicago's Lab School, where his daughters used to attend school and where the President has played basketball in the past. He entered in his black North Face jacket and his Chicago White Sox cap on, and his trusty personal assistant — and frequent basketball companion — Reggie Love with him.  The White House never confirmed exactly what he did in there for the two hours of his visit, but a pool reporter on site emailed that “several people preceded POTUS out the door dressed in sweats and looking bedraggled.”

Later that evening, Obama and his family took a walk to neighbor and family-friend Marty Nesbitt's house for a backyard barbecue. Seen walking were the President, in blue jeans and an un-tucked blue shirt alongside his mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughter Malia with first dog Bo, daughter Sasha, brother-in-law Craig Robinson, and his sister, first lady Michelle next to his wife, who pushed a stroller. Sam Sutton, a White House valet, “brought up the rear carrying a white box of the sort and size that holds sheet cakes,” according to a written pool report.

The first family remained there for more than six hours, before returning to their home just after 10:30 p.m. No word what went on inside, but their departure coincided pretty closely with the end of the Chicago Blackhawk’s Stanley Cup finals win over the Philadelphia Flyers.  (The score was 6-5.)

Sunday dawned with another Obama trip to a gym, this time to a “private gym” near the West Side shortly after 9 a.m.  This visit lasted just under two hours and a local reporter informed several press pool members that the building houses "Naturally Fit, a fitness studio owned by Cornell McClellan, who is known in Chicago as Michelle Obama's personal trainer.”

Shortly after 11 a.m., the press pool members were dismissed with a White House-declared “lid,” the term presidential staff use to say Obama has no other events planned for the day, public or otherwise, but later in the day the president decided to visit with family and friends in the neighborhood. A White House aide said the president was at Valerie Jarrett's mother's house for a party celebrating Jarrett's daughter's graduation from Harvard Law School.

White House staff sent our several press releases to make sure the press knew that Obama was engaged in the disaster clean-up, participating in briefing updates and making a late-Saturday paper statement.

Tomorrow President Obama heads to Elwood, Ill., to visit Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, a veteran’s cemetery about 50 miles south of Chicago.  There he will lay a wreath and deliver a Memorial Day address. Normally the president participates in this ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery just outside of Washington.  This year, Vice President Biden will have that solemn honor, laying the traditional wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. 

– Jon Garcia

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