- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2022

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 Rehoboth Beach. He 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. Six visits to Camp David added another 14 days.

Critics say Mr. Biden routinely bolted from Washington despite spiraling national crises. In late August and early 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 threats 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 has 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 ordered an airstrike on Syria from his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2017.

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

“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 53 days away from Washington: 26 in Chicago, Martha’s Vineyard, Hawaii and other hot spots, and 11 Camp David visits totaling 27 days.

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

When criticism was mounting over Mr. Biden’s visits home during the Afghanistan withdrawal, the White House insisted he was 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. John Adams, the 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 the U.S. came close to 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 vacations at commercial properties he owned. The press also labeled him a hypocrite for golfing after blasting Mr. Obama’s time 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 the president 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 golf cart rentals 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.”

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 agents’ stays at his Delaware home. Under the Secret Service 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 a sitting vice president and a vendor for the federal government at the same time.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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