- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Misery loves company — and a good vacation in the dead of winter. While Washington bursts at the seams with jubilant celebrations for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, disgruntled Republicans and former supporters of Sen. John McCain are bah-humbuggying out of town.

“We’re getting the heck out of here. We don’t want to be in the middle of all of this,” says Dr. Meredith Garrett, a Northwest Washington surgeon and McCain donor who is beelining to Solitude, Utah, with her husband and children for a snowboarding break.

Dr. Garrett says she and her husband made the decision to get out of Dodge when they were accosted by Democratic members of their family who wanted to stay in their home for the inauguration.

She says she not only is boycotting the inauguration, but is not allowing her own relatives to stay in her house while she is away.

“I am getting as far from D.C. as I can. I may go to Alaska and see Sarah,” says John Coale, referring to Mr. McCain’s Alaskan running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin.

Mr. Coale was a finance chairman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign but pointedly supported Mr. McCain instead of Mr. Obama in the general election. “I am still a Democrat, just not an Obama fan,” Mr. Coale explains.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis is taking his disappointment south of the border to enjoy the far warmer breezes of Mexico with a group of so-called “McCainiacs” during the inaugural festivities.

“It appears this time may lend itself to a nice four-day vacation, and it looks like Republicans are going,” says Chris Taylor, a Republican National Committee spokesman.

Indeed, many popular getaway destinations are cashing in on the Obama blues travelers.

The posh Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida is targeting Metro D.C. residents with its Escape From Inauguration package, offering an extra 20 percent discount off suites with already reduced rates.

“With all of the hustle and bustle of people descending on the capital for the inauguration, and the everyday demands of running the government, it may be a better time to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of an island resort,” says Amelia Island Plantation Senior Vice President Richard Goldman.

Rachel Hayden, marketing manager for the Inn at Little Washington, about an hour outside the District in Virginia, says the inn is taking far more reservations from people looking to get out of Washington for the inauguration than get in. “We’re finding most people coming here want to get out of it,” she says. “They don’t want to be around the millions of people and the bars open until 4 a.m. They want some quiet.”

Some Republicans, however, are trying to turn political lemons into lemonade by staying put. For her part, Ashcroft Group principal and Grand Old Party hostess Juleanna Glover is making the most of the situation. “No pity parties,” she promises. “I’m pulling together a party for Horton´s Kids [nonprofit tutoring and mentoring organization] for inaugural weekend. It will be the usual bipartisan mix of politicos and reporters plus quite a number of out-of-town execs and visitors. I expect to be out in full force.”

Uberconservative and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist says he also is looking on the bright side. “It’s going to be rough, but the inauguration is all about the peaceful transition of power, and that is something to celebrate,” says Mr. Norquist, who plans to watch the inaugural festivities with his wife from the balcony of fellow conservative Robert Novak’s home.

Of course, there are those who will commiserate from the couch the old-fashioned way. “I will be drinking away my sorrows at home,” says Brian Darling, vice president of Senate relations for the Heritage Foundation, “although my house is less than a mile away from the inauguration site.”

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