Obama Hobnobs With Friends on Vineyard Family Vacation
The president has joined friends and supporters for private receptions and golf.
Aug. 24, 2011— -- 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 confidantes, many of whom have ties to his hometown Chicago, and some deep-pocket donors eager to help him win another term.
Obama has ventured to the golf course three of the six days he's been on the Vineyard, playing with White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, aide Michael Brush, attorney and Washington insider Vernon Jordan 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 golf with the president at a course in Washington.
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 video and internet company, 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 president was not joined by the first lady or his daughters at either event.
The White House has dismissed the suggestion that the receptions involved fundraising.
"I can state for you unequivocally that the events that the President attended over the last couple of evenings were purely social occasions," White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.
Officials also note that Obama has been spending a "decent amount of time" fulfilling his responsibilities as president even though he is out of Washington.
He has received regular briefings on the situation in Libya, the east coast earthquake and preparations for Hurricane Irene, aides said, and he has placed several calls to business leaders and members of his economic team as he prepares a new jobs plan for early September.
"There have been some things that have intervened" in the president's vacation, Earnest told reporters Wednesday. "But I also -- it's fair to say that he's gotten an opportunity to spend some time with his daughters before they have to go back to school. And I -- that's something that he's enjoyed quite a bit."
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