Biden’s absenteeism from the White House surpasses Trump, Obama

President Biden spent more than a third of his first year in the White House on personal trips away from Washington, outpacing his predecessors by weeks.

Since taking office last year, Mr. Biden took 42 personal trips totaling 140 days, according to a Washington Times analysis of the president’s public schedule. 

Mr. Biden spent 95 days in Delaware, split between his homes in Wilmington and his beach house in Rehoboth Beach. He also spent 45 days at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

He surpassed President Trump’s White House absences by more than two weeks.

Mr. Trump spent a total of 124 days away from the White House during his first year. That broke down to 38 weekends totaling 110 days at his golf properties and six visits to Camp David, adding another 14 days.

Critics say Mr. Biden routinely bolted from Washington despite spiraling crises for the country. In late August and earlier September, Mr. Biden scooted out of Washington while Americans remained trapped in Afghanistan.

He spent weekends at his Delaware homes or Camp David while the nation grappled with surging inflation, rising COVID-19 cases and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threatening moves against Ukraine.

“While President Biden is licking ice cream in Delaware, President Putin is ready to invade and annex Ukraine,” said Mike Davis, founder of the conservative Article III Project.

The White House did not respond to multiple attempts to seek comment but have repeatedly defended Mr. Biden’s trips to Delaware.

Mr. Biden’s Democratic supporters say he is never truly on vacation, and technology allows White House staff to stay in touch in a crisis. They note that Mr. Trump in 2017 ordered an airstrike on Syria from his Mar-a-Lago resort.

They also point out that Mr. Biden last month talked with Mr. Putin by phone from his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“I think it’s good for presidents to get out of the White House,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “Have any of his critics heard of Zoom?”

President Obama spent more time at the White House during his first year than either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden. He spent a total of 52 days away from Washington, including 26 days spent in Chicago, Martha’s Vineyard, Hawaii, and other hot spots, plus 11 Camp David visits for a total of 27 days.

President George W. Bush topped Mr. Biden’s away time during his first year in the White House. He spent 151 days away from Washington, making nine trips to his Texas ranch totaling 69 days and 25 trips to Camp David totaling 78 days. He also spent a four-day weekend at his parents’ house in Kennebunkport, Maine, that year.

Last year, when criticism was mounting over Mr. Biden’s visits home during the Afghanistan pullout crisis, the White House insisted he was still on the job.

“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,” the statement read. “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,” the White House said.

Criticism of presidential vacations is almost as old as the presidency itself. President Adams, our nation’s second commander-in-chief, was heavily criticized for spending seven months at his Massachusetts farm. Critics accused Adams of abdicating his duties and dawdling while America faced a potential war with France. The criticism hobbled his unsuccessful run for a second term.

Mr. Trump repeatedly came under fire in the news media for spending his vacations at commercial properties he owned. The press also labeled him a hypocrite for golfing after blasting Mr. Obama”s time spent on the links.

“The double standard and hypocrisy of the media’s coverage between Trump and Biden’s days in the White House are unsurprising because too many journalists are Democrat cheerleaders instead of objective reporters,” said the Article III Project’s Mr. Davis.

Mr. Bannon questioned Mr. Trump’s visits to his golf properties. The trips raised ethical questions because he charged the Secret Service for rooms and other expenses. A 2019 report from the Government Accountability Office concluded that Mr. Trump’s golf outings cost taxpayers an average of $3.4 million, including renting golf carts and greens fees.

“President Trump’s golfing expeditions cost Americans millions of dollars,” Mr. Bannon said. “My guess is that President Biden spends a lot less time on recreation than the old president.”

However, the cost of Mr. Biden’s latest Delaware jaunts has not been released.

When he was vice president in the Obama administration, Mr. Biden charged the Secret Service rent for when they stayed at his Delaware home. Under the Secret Services’ contract with Mr. Biden, the government paid him $2,200 a month to rent a cottage on his property. 

The arrangement, first reported by The Washington Times in 2011, put Mr. Biden in the unusual position of being both a sitting vice president and a vendor for the federal government at the same time.

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