The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Barack Obama
Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton
August 23, 2009
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cape Cod Coast Guard Station

2:09 P.M. EDT

MR. BURTON: All right. I have specific instructions from the President for the press corps. He wants you to relax and have a good time. Take some walks on the beaches. Nobody is looking to make any news, so he's hoping that you guys can enjoy Martha's Vineyard while we're there. And the second thing I'll say is, of course the First Family would very much appreciate if you respect the privacy of the girls while they're out here on vacation.

So, with that, if you've got any questions, I'd be happy to take them.

Q: What kind of briefings is the President receiving while he's on vacation?

MR. BURTON: There's a member of the national security staff who's here who will see him every day. The time is varying. He'll also receive briefings by paper, and if necessary set up secure teleconferences with advisers in Washington or wherever they might be. He'll also be in contact with advisers as appropriate.

Q: No one from NEC?

MR. BURTON: No.

Q: Can you say anything more about Afghanistan? This morning General, I think, Mullen --

MR. BURTON: Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Eikenberry I think were pretty fulsome in their comments on Afghanistan. I don't have much to add besides what they had to say. Obviously we're encouraged that Afghanistan had an election and that so many people participated. We obviously won't have the results for a while. So we look forward to hearing the results just like everybody else.

Q: Any thing more about the timing of the -- General McChrystal's assessment report?

MR. BURTON: As Admiral Mullen said this morning, looks like we'll have the assessment in a couple of weeks.

Q: A couple of weeks.

Q: So this admonition from the President, was that given on the plane now, or what?

MR. BURTON: Yes. I asked him if he had the message for the press corps, and that's what it is.

Q: On Friday Gibbs said the Nesbitts weren't coming. Any change in that?

MR. BURTON: Say that again?

Q: Gibbs said Nesbitts weren't expected to join the President on this trip, on Friday. Is that still the case?

MR. BURTON: That's right. No change to that. Maya and her family are going to be there. They're on board right now. Bo is on board. We're looking to have a good time.

Q: You said Maya is on board, or they're not on board?

MR. BURTON: Maya is, yes. Maya and her husband and their girls.

Q: Is Mrs. Robinson on board? Is she going to be there?

MR. BURTON: I don't know. I'll check it out.

Q: There are no plans to see Senator Kennedy?

MR. BURTON: No plans.

Q: Will he give him a call? Any contact at all? He's up in his neck of the woods.

MR. BURTON: Obviously the President and his family have been in contact with Senator Kennedy and their family over the course of his time as President. I can't imagine that contact would continue even while they're here. But there's no plans at this point to go over to Hyannis Port.

Q: The advice for us to relax -- how does he plan to relax on this vacation?

MR. BURTON: There isn't a lot scheduled for this week. You can bet there's going to be some golf playing, maybe a little swimming, but a lot of time spent with his family.

Q: Any time spent with Tiger Woods?

MR. BURTON: I think that's a bad rumor. I don't even know that he's going to be here this week. But no, there's -- nothing like that is on the schedule. There's no plan for that. But certainly Tiger Woods is a good golfer, and it's fun to play with him, I hear. Unless you're in a tournament and he's beating you -- probably by a lot.

Q: Not always. (Laughter.)

MR. BURTON: That was Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times who said that. (Laughter.)

Q: Another question about foreign affairs. The Middle East -- there was -- I don't know, several -- I just received an e-mail from one of my editors with a list of three or four opinion pieces in various newspapers today about the Middle East, talking about how they expect the President to go to the UNGA with some kind of plan. Do you know anything about that? Anything you want to say about that?

MR. BURTON: I think there were rumors on that last week when Mubarak was in Washington, and I think that those rumors are a bit premature. I would just point you to what Gibbs said that day.

Q: What are you going to do to relax?

MR. BURTON: My wife Laura is going to be there, and we're going to spend some time checking out the restaurants across the vineyard. But other than that, I'll probably be just, you know, knee deep in briefing materials just trying to learn as much as I can. I'll spend a little time with you guys every morning. Me and Tommy will both be there. He's coming off of vacation, so I'm going to direct most calls to him because he needs to actually do a little bit of work. His e-mail address is tvietor@who.eop.gov.

Q: What is your briefing plan? Tomorrow and then?

MR. BURTON: I will brief tomorrow morning -- time yet to be determined. And then me and Tommy plan to be around the briefing center -- the filing center in the mornings if people have questions. Obviously we'll be on cell phone and BlackBerry. And if people need us, they can certainly find us. And then we'll play it by ear as the week goes on.

Q: When other Presidents have come here in recent years or recent decades, they've done a lot of public things, in terms of like with the residents of the island. They've had dinners and parties and things. How does President Obama intend to communicate his intention to remain private? Like, will he see any of those people at all? I mean, he has a lot of contributors who live there, et cetera.

MR. BURTON: Well, let me just start by saying that the President is coming to Martha's Vineyard because it's a beautiful place where the residents are great and the people who come to visit in the summers ain't too bad, either. They've got great beaches, great restaurants, a good community. And he looks forward to enjoying it like he has over the course of the last 10 years when he's been here before. He's on vacation, though, and there are no scheduled plans. And just like when anybody else goes on vacation, if dinner plans pop up, they go out to dinner. If your friends come over, they come over. So I think we'll all just be playing this by ear.

Q: You've mentioned restaurants a couple times. Do you expect that they'll go out for a bite in a local restaurant, the First Family?

MR. BURTON: I think that's certainly possible. But there's no -- nothing scheduled on that front.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Very relaxing.

MR. BURTON: You bet. That's what we were going for.

END 2:16 P.M. EDT

Citation: Barack Obama: "Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton", August 23, 2009. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=86561.
 
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