Since 1996, Knoller has kept tabs on all kinds of presidential data — How many summits? With whom? How many press conferences? — including how often the occupant of the Oval Office at the time leaves the stifling (literally and figuratively) climate of Washington to go on vacation. Successive White Houses have generally found that when their numbers are at odds with the bearded and booming-voiced reporter's figures, the official tallies are the ones that need correcting.
Knoller — who always notes that presidents are never truly on vacation, given the demands of the job and the era of 24/7 communications — graciously shared his latest data with Yahoo News. So here it is:
As of Aug. 13, 2013, Obama is on his 15th vacation trip, covering all or part of 96 days total. He's spending this vacation in Martha's Vineyard with his family.
At the same point in his presidency — Aug. 13, 2005 — George W. Bush had made 51 visits to his ranch in tiny Crawford, Texas, totaling all or part of 335 days. (Note: Bush sometimes used the property to host world leaders.)
Bush also traveled seven times to his family’s oceanside compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, covering all or part of 26 days — bringing his total number of vacation days at this point in his presidency to 349 days. (335+26 doesn’t = 349, but remember the “all or part of” caveat.)
What about former President Bill Clinton? At this point in his second term, he had taken 11 vacations covering all or part of 84 days.
“The trips were mostly to Martha’s Vineyard or Jackson Hole, WY. Though he also spent a few days in Hilton Head for New Year’s and then to the Virgin Islands for a few days,” Knoller said in an email.
And former President Ronald Reagan? At this point in his second term he had made 29 trips to his ranch in California, spanning all or part of 180 days.
None of these figures includes visits to Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington, which Knoller does not consider vacation.
What about golf? Obama has played two rounds thus far on this vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, bringing his total to 135 rounds as president so far.
He has played 60 rounds at Andrews Air Force Base just outside Washington, D.C. — the home of Air Force One. He has played an additional 31 rounds at Fort Belvoir in nearby Virginia. Obama has played 18 rounds each in Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard, “and a few others along the way,” according to Knoller.
Bush played 24 rounds of golf as president — but he stopped in the fall of 2003, after deciding it was not appropriate to be seen playing golf while American troops fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.