Cabin Fever At The White House. Already.
Though Barack Obama spent two years zigzagging the country on a nearly non-stop campaign and he's only been President for 18 days, he's already feeling confined at the White House.
(White House photo by Pete Souza)
"It's safe to say," said spokesman Robert Gibbs when asked if the President was already feeling cooped up.
"He's a bit of a restless soul," said Gibbs of Mr. Obama. "His idea of a crazy day is to take a long walk."
On Tuesday, the President and First Lady visited with a group of 2nd graders at a public charter school here in Washington. Mr. Obama said he and the Mrs. had three reasons for coming to visit, the first one being "we wanted to get out of the White House."
And today, Gibbs announced Pres. Obama's plans to travel next week to Indiana, Florida and Illinois.
"I think the president looks forward to getting out of town for a few hours," said Gibbs. Actually, Mr. Obama will be out of town next week on five of seven days.
The cocoon effect of the White House has been felt by all of its occupants – especially since the days of the JFK assassination – as security measures were repeatedly expanded.
Several past presidents have referred to the White House as the crown jewel in the federal penal system.
Former White House Chief Usher Gary Walters views it as one of the most difficult aspects of First Family life.
"It's just being in the fishbowl," he said. "The lack of privacy - every family has that difficulty."
In a CBS News interview, Walters said the First Family lives inside of an 18-acre park and museum. "There are people 24 hours a day around that fence: tourists, visitors, guests and protestors."
"It's something that each family has to adjust to," says Walters, who served in the White House for 31 years. But some First Families adjust better than others.
One thing that helps is the ability to get away to Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland – a 45-minute helicopter ride from the South Lawn of the White House.
And Gibbs announced that's exactly what the First Family will be doing this weekend.
During the last Administration, Pres. and Mrs. Bush came to love Camp David as a getaway from the White House.
During his eight years in office, Mr. Bush made 149 visits to Camp David – spending all or part of 487 days there.
Tomorrow will be the Obama's first visit.
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.
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