POTUS updated on Irene
August 26th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

POTUS updated on Irene

From White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest:

“The President convened a conference call and was briefed once again this morning by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and other senior White House officials about preparations being made for Hurricane Irene.”

Topics: FEMA • President Obama • The News
July 27, 2004
August 26th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

Friday fun: Presidential tie talk

In a world where children's lingerie is acceptable and no one bats an eye at a man with black eyeliner (we’re looking at you, Russell Brand and Johnny Depp), even the most fashion-illiterate male knows to follow a few rules: don't fasten the bottom button of your suit jacket, always match the color of your belt to the color of your shoes and never wear white socks with black pants. NEVER. In recent years, however, other articles of clothing have moved into the glaring spotlight of the fashion police, including the tie.

Some have said that the tie makes the man. But when you're a man who represents an entire country, the seemingly monotonous job of picking out some neck bling in the AM becomes a lot more important than, say, the man-sandals debate. Suddenly, the president's decision to wear red with white dots instead of blue with grey stripes is taken a lot more seriously. And though there are some who'd argue that it's a tie-ersome subject or isn’t suitable for discussion (puns intended), there's no denying that it’s an intriguing topic. In fact, entire websites, like neckofstate.com, are dedicated to the analysis of presidential neckties.

So what do you think? Does the tie make the man? Or should we just clip the tie (whoops! we meant nip the tie) talk in the bud?

Topics: President Obama • The Buzz • The Visuals
Obama's summer White House prepares for storm
The harbor at Vineyard Haven on Martha;s Vineyard. President Obama will end his vacation on schedule and fly back to Washington, DC Saturday according to the White House.
August 25th, 2011
07:21 PM ET

Obama's summer White House prepares for storm

VINEYARD HAVEN, MA (CNN) - After a series of briefings on Libya, Irene, and the economy, President Obama hit the beach with his family Thursday, as many people onMartha’s Vineyardwere scrambling to exit the island.

Ferries and flights were packed with passengers.

“It does get pretty chaotic on the island,” said a woman waiting to board a Cape Cod-bound ferry, “so we decided to head back home.”

Darren Johnson and his family were also waiting to board the same ferry.

“We are cutting our vacation short by three days as we go through the storm so we’re absolutely unhappy,” he said.

Those staying behind headed to a Vineyard Haven hardware store to load up on emergency supplies.

“We started seeing gas cans go, flashlights, batteries,”  said store manager John Watson. “We are now pretty bare, bereft of everything. They came in for cases of water, out in the lumber yard they've been buying sheets of plywood to board up their windows and doors.”

Watson is used to this routine. While Martha’s Vineyard hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in years, he said just the threat always sends people scrambling.

“Usually as soon as it looks like it's heading our way people start moving in.”

Some marinas on the island that were packed with bobbing boats just a few days ago emptied out.

“Our customers…they've started realizing that their boats are at risk, and so they started calling to say could you pull my boat our pretty quickly,” said Sheryl RothRogers, who bought Edgartown Marine just ten weeks ago. FULL POST

President monitors Hurricane Irene preparations from his Martha's Vineyard vacation
The calm before the storm? The harbor at Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard in the path of Hurricane Irene.
August 25th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

President monitors Hurricane Irene preparations from his Martha's Vineyard vacation

(CNN) Martha's Vineyard, MA–President Obama held a conference call Thursday morning with FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and White House chief of staff Bill Daley about the current track of Hurricane Irene, its potential impact and the government's preparations according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said his agency is deploying teams from the Carolinas to Maine along the east coast of the United States.

"[O]ur briefing to the president was to update him on that status. And his direction back to us was to make sure we had what we need, keep him up to speed and he wants to make sure you know that we are stay in close contact with the governors and the metropolitan areas that are along the path of this storm," said Fugate.

The White House spokesman said they have no plans "at this point" for changes in the president's schedule for his vacation on Martha's Vineyard due to Hurricane Irene. "The President of the United States is responsible for fulfilling his responsibilities as the President of the United States regardless of where he is and regardless of where he goes," said spokesman Josh Earnest. "I think as the briefing call that he did with Administrator Fugate and Secretary Napolitano and others this morning demonstrates...the president is fulfilling those responsibilities and is committed to ensuring that everything that needs to be done from the federal government to prepare for this is being done," said Earnest. FULL POST

Topics: FEMA • Hurricane Irene • President Obama • The Family • The News
Obama’s jobs plan: a work in progress
August 24th, 2011
06:06 PM ET

Obama’s jobs plan: a work in progress

President Obama’s job’s plan is taking shape during his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, but a White House aide was unwilling to say that a framework had been constructed.

“It’s fair to say that there are some detailed policy discussions…and evaluations that are being made,” said Deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest during his first ever on-camera briefing. But when pressed by CNN on the finer point of a framework, Earnest said “the process is ongoing, I don't have anything more to add to that.”

President Obama spoke Wednesday with two members of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness about ideas to put Americans back to work.

In a conference call with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and American Express CEO Ken Chenault, the president was presented with two initiatives the council is reviewing. One involves increasing the number of engineers graduating from U.S. colleges, the other idea would provide relief for unemployed construction workers by finding them green jobs retrofitting buildings.


Topics: jobs • President Obama
White House offers glimpse into president’s Libya vacation
August 23rd, 2011
11:47 AM ET

White House offers glimpse into president’s Libya vacation

VINEYARD HAVEN, MA (CNN) - As the situation in Libya was unraveling over the weekend, a vacationing President Obama was trying to get as much intelligence as possible from his national security team. He’s an “aggressive robust consumer” of information said a senior administration official who did not want to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan provided frequent updates in person. Other senior members of the national security team weighed in as called on and during at least two conference calls with the president, the official said.

With so much uncertainty and in the midst of what the president himself called a “fluid” situation, the White House wanted to be careful to have confirmation of critical details before sending the president out to make public statements.

His mood during this time was described by the official as “businesslike.”

Topics: Libya • Mark Zuckerberg • President Obama • The News
Reporter's Notebook: How the administration reacted to the crisis in Libya
President Obama greets onlookers outside an Oak Bluffs restaurant on Martha's Vineyard Sunday night.
August 22nd, 2011
06:01 PM ET

Reporter's Notebook: How the administration reacted to the crisis in Libya

(CNN) Martha's Vineyard, MA–Strong words today from President Obama as the situation in Libya deteriorated. "It's clear that Gadhafi's rule is over," the president announced once again calling on the Libyan strongman to step down. But the president cautioned that the situation in Libya remains fluid and his administration continues to monitor "fierce fighting" in some areas.

This on-camera statement from Mr. Obama at his vacation home on Martha's Vineyard ended two days of high-level talks, as well as late night and early morning conference calls with the president’s national security team – all amidst a family vacation.

On Sunday, the CNN team that was part of the White House travel pool gathered in the early morning to follow the president's movements. As the situation in Libya intensified, reporters clamored to find out if the president would speak on camera. The White House’s official response was, "not at this point."

The day progressed and the travel pool followed the president's movements from a morning at the beach to an afternoon of golf and a reception at the oceanfront home of a powerful media executive. And still no statement from the White House on Libya.

As evening approached, the White House alerted the travel pool that the president would be making an "off the record" movement where the press would be able to shoot video. It was finally a chance to see if the president would speak in front of the cameras. FULL POST

Obama makes statement on Libya from Martha's Vineyard
August 22nd, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Obama makes statement on Libya from Martha's Vineyard

While on vacation on Martha's Vineyard, the president made a brief statement this afternoon on the developing situation in Libya. Speaking to the small group of traveling press with him on the island, the president began by stating that he's been kept abreast of the situation despite being away from Washington:

I just completed a call with my National Security Council on the situation in Libya. And earlier today I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron about the extraordinary events taking place there. The situation is still very fluid. There remains a degree of uncertainty and there are still regime elements who pose a threat. But this much is clear: The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.

The president summarized U.S. military involvement in Libya, beginning with the "peaceful protests" earlier this year and culminating with international recognition of the Transitional National Council as the "legitimate governing authority in Libya." And then he outlined the current situation:

Over the last several days, the situation in Libya has reached a tipping point as the opposition increased its coordination from east to west, took town after town, and the people of Tripoli rose up to claim their freedom.

For over four decades, the Libyan people have lived under the rule of a tyrant who denied them their most basic human rights. Now, the celebrations that we’ve seen in the streets of Libya shows that the pursuit of human dignity is far stronger than any dictator. I want to emphasize that this is not over yet. As the regime collapses, there is still fierce fighting in some areas, and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting. FULL POST

Topics: Libya • President Obama
Presidential reading material
August 20th, 2011
01:56 PM ET

Presidential reading material

MARTHA'S VINEYARD (CNN) - President Obama and his daughters, Malia and Sasha visited a local bookstore in Vineyard Haven to purchase some books for their summer reading.

No official word on what books the girls bought but White House officials say the president bought two books for himself: The Bayou Trilogy, a collection by Daniel Woodrell and Rodin's Debutante by Ward Just.

The White House also said Mr. Obama brought several books with him to read on the trip:  Cutting for Stone, a novel by Abraham Verghese;  To the End of the Land, a novel by David Grossman; and  The Warmth of Other Suns, which is the story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson.

Obama balances jobs and fun on vacation
August 20th, 2011
12:16 PM ET

Obama balances jobs and fun on vacation

VINEYARD HAVEN, MA (CNN) - A senior administration official said President Obama and his top economic advisers are “making progress” in constructing the jobs plan that he’s expected to roll out after Labor Day.

The official said it’s still a work in progress, with top aides “crunching numbers” and “weighing options.” “This is something that they will continue working on all next week,” the official said.

The “new ideas” the president will announce will be in addition to other issues the White House has been pushing for weeks, including cutting payroll taxes and rebuilding roads, bridges, and airports. In his weekly address the president said “there are things we can do right now that will mean more customers for businesses and more jobs across the country.”

The president is keeping a low profile on Martha’s Vineyard. His mornings consist of economic and national security briefings the official said. His afternoons will closely follow Friday’s routine which consisted of some family time with his daughters at a Vineyard Haven book store, some personal time on the golf course and some one-on-one time with the First Lady.

Topics: President Obama • The News • Vacation