- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 18, 2011

President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner played their much-anticipated golf match as a team Saturday, defeating Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in an outing with high-stakes political overtones.

The White House said in a statement that the president and Mr. Boehner defeated their counterparts on the 18th hole, each winning $2.

“The foursome had great time and really enjoyed playing golf,” the statement said.

After their round at Joint Base Andrews, the foursome went to the patio of the clubhouse where they enjoyed “a cold drink, some of the U.S. Open coverage and visited with service members.”

The pairing of the president and Mr. Boehner on the same team avoided the question of whether the speaker shot a better round than the commander-in-chief. Mr. Boehner is acknowledged to be a better golfer, shooting in the low 80s.

There was no word on whether the leaders cleared the air on the federal budget and other matters.

The president and Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, teed off before 10 a.m. Saturday at Andrews, where Mr. Obama plays frequently. Pool reporters watching on the first hole saw the president, Mr. Boehner and Mr. Kasich all make par 5, with Mr. Biden sinking a 15-to 20-foot putt for an apparent bogey.

“Did you all catch that?” Mr. Obama shouted to reporters gathered near the green after the vice president sank his putt.

The speaker shouted “Oh yeah!” when he made his short par putt. The president patted Mr. Boehner as they rode off in a cart toward the second tee, with Mr. Obama driving. Also on the links in another cart were White House trip director Marvin Nicholson and Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

Reporters and photographers at the course were not allowed to follow the foursome for the entire 18 holes.

The outing came as the administration is engaged in contentious, high-stakes negotiations with congressional Republicans over reducing the federal budget deficit and cutting spending.

Republicans have insisted on cuts of about $2 trillion over 10 years or 12 years before agreeing to increase the current $14.3 debt ceiling, which the government says it will surpass Aug. 2.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president didn’t have an agenda for talks on the links, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if they discussed the budget.

“I can say with great confidence that they will not wrap up the 18th hole and come out and say that we have a deal,” Mr. Carney said.

Federal spending is only one of the issues on which the golf partners have clashed lately. Mr. Boehner has led the congressional challenge to the president for failing to give a “compelling rationale” for U.S. involvement in the military action against Libya. A House-passed resolution said Mr. Obama violated the 1973 War Powers resolution.

In response, the White House said the NATO-led campaign does not meet the traditional definition of “hostilities.” The administration on Thursday sought to discredit Mr. Boehner on the issue, alerting reporters to a decade-old statement he made questioning the constitutionality of the War Powers resolution.

The foursome played the par-72 East Course, one of three 18-hole courses at Joint Base Andrews.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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