The biggest names on the links this week aren’t all teeing off at the PGA tournament in Paramus, New Jersey.
The power foursomes are on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is spending a chunk of his vacation playing golf with partners who have included Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer of UBS Americas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vernon Jordan, Lazard Ltd. senior managing director and a longtime Democratic Party supporter.
Obama had a 15-minute discussion with Bloomberg about the economy in the clubhouse before heading out to the fairways yesterday, Reid Cherlin, an administration spokesman, said.
“The president and Mayor Bloomberg took the opportunity to discuss plans for short- and long-term economic growth at a pivotal point in our recovery,” Cherlin said.
The discussion came on the same day the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew at a 1.6 percent annual pace in the second quarter. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a speech that the U.S. central bank “will do all that it can” to ensure the economic recovery continues.
Obama called Bloomberg last week to invite him to discuss the economy and play a round at Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, Massachusetts, the mayor’s spokesman, Stu Loeser, said. Bloomberg flew to the island yesterday.
“When the president calls and asks you to come for a visit, you go,” Loeser said.
Obama and Bloomberg were joined by Jordan and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Business and Pleasure
On the first full day of his vacation, before a three-day spate of rain, the president played golf with South Carolina Democratic Representative James Clyburn, also a Washington power player. On Aug. 25 the president played with Wolf, who is one of his major allies in the business community.
Obama also indulged his other favorite sport, basketball, when weather was foul. Wolf and his two sons were among those on court during a game Aug. 23.
Golf has increasingly become Obama’s favorite relief valve outside the White House. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, frequently took time on weekends for running before switching to bicycling.
Eric Whitaker, one of the president’s friends from Chicago, has played four rounds with Obama during the first family’s 10-day vacation on the island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Whitaker said his own frequency of play has gone from four times a year to sometimes four times a week since Obama entered the White House.
“I just think it’s one of the few places where he can be free,” Whitaker said in an October 2009 interview. “I was surprised at how much we played.”
Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said Obama’s selection of golf partners gives him a chance to show he is on the job even when relaxing.
“This president is never ever entirely on vacation,” Baker said. “I think he’s someone who has managed to combine business and pleasure in such a way to deflect criticism that he’s not on the job.”