Politics on Point: Presidential Vacations

Read the script:

[Nick] Anyone else ready for a vacation? Yeah, luckily we're allowed to take some time off. But what about the President of the United States? Does he ever catch a break?

Well, the answer is both yes and no. While there aren't any specific days set aside for the President to relax, they have been known to take some time away from the White House, and, as you can imagine, they normally receive criticism for doing so.

But the practice dates way back. In fact, our second president, John Adams, left the capital, which at the time was Philadelphia, for the longest period of time. He was away for about seven months in 1799. People joked that he was relinquishing his position, but he was actually in Quincy, Massachusetts, caring for his sick wife.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, even escaped the White House during the Civil War. During the summer months from 1862 to 1864, Lincoln relocated to a cottage about 4 miles away from the White House. The cottage was supposedly cooler than the White House and gave Lincoln a bit of distance from the chaos of the ongoing war, but not much distance, Lincoln still commuted by horseback to the White House to do his work.

On his ride, he would often pass a famous poet, Walt Whitman, who wrote in The New York Times about it, "Mr. Lincoln generally rides a good-sized, easy-going gray horse, is dressed in plain back and somewhat rusty and dusty, wears a black stiff hat, and looks about as ordinary in attire as the commonest man, always to me with a deep latent sadness in the expression."

The cottage provided Lincoln with some comfort from the Civil War and the heat of the summer, and it was there that he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, which would end slavery for millions of people.

Now, the president who has racked up the most vacation days in modern time is our 43rd president, George W. Bush, who took 879 days away. Most of this time was spent at his Texas ranch.

You may have noticed a pattern, lots of presidents tend to return home or to property that they own for some R&R. That could be because, if they're on vacation, it is up to them to pay for their lodging and food.

No matter where the president goes though, his necessary staff and security tag along, and he always travels in presidential style on Air Force One, for safety of course.

Besides home, another place plenty of presidents head is Camp David. Camp David, in Maryland, is technically a military base, but it's been used as a presidential retreat since the days of Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. He nicknamed the spot Shangri-La, after a fictional tropical paradise. Here he hosted the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

President John F. Kennedy spent time there with his family too. And in 2012, President Barack Obama held a summit here with prime ministers from around the world to talk about the global economy. Not quite a vacation.

With modern technology and communication, it isn't really possible for presidents to escape their jobs. Nowadays, their trips are typically considered working vacations. It's like bringing your homework to the beach, not as fun, but hey, at least you're on the beach.

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