President who 'doesn't take holidays' starts 17-day golf trip
Donald Trump once questioned the wisdom of taking vacations. "What's the point?" he asked. But now the president is getting ready to join the annual August exodus from the city he calls "the swamp".
Mr Trump yesterday began his first extended vacation from Washington since the inauguration, with 17 days at his private golf club in central New Jersey.
The vacation could be driven in part by necessity. Everyone who works in the White House West Wing, including the Oval Office occupant himself, must clear out by the end of the week so the government can replace a balky, 27-year-old heating and cooling system.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said West Wing staff need to vacate the premises in August while workers are replacing the building's HVAC system.
"The president's going to continue to work and we all need to be relocated out of the West Wing due to these renovations that should have taken place before," she said.
"They either need to be repaired or replaced and it's not something that can go on while we're still occupying the West Wing."
Mr Trump and his supporters like to publicise his disdain for taking vacations, when the truth is that he takes them constantly.
"Don't take vacations. What's the point? If you're not enjoying your work, you're in the wrong job," Mr Trump wrote in his 2004 book, 'Trump: Think Like a Billionaire'.
He told Larry King in an interview that year that "most of the people I know that are successful really don't take vacations. Their business is their vacation. I rarely leave. You know that. You and I are friends. How often do you see me going away?"
Actually, Mr Trump gets out of town quite often. So far, he has spent 13 of 28 weekends in office away from the White House, mostly at his properties in Palm Beach, Florida, or in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to an Associated Press count.
The figures include a weekend during official travel overseas, and Father's Day weekend at Camp David, the government-owned presidential retreat in Maryland.
Contrast Mr Trump's frequent getaways with his criticism, before and during last year's presidential campaign, of former president Barack Obama's vacations and frequent golf outings.
Mr Trump said last year that he wouldn't have time for golf if he became president.
"I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf," he told supporters in Virginia. But he plays golf whenever he's at his clubs; sometimes the full 18 holes, other times less than that. His staff rarely acknowledge he plays, even when photos of him on the course are on social media.
Presidents have been escaping Washington's summer heat and humidity since Thomas Jefferson looked out the White House windows and watched as a white fog that was believed to be toxic rolled in. Harry Truman played poker on the porch in Key West, Florida. Ronald Reagan rode horses at his mountain ranch in California.