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Biden Returns After Vacation to the Hamptons

In this photo released by the New York City Mayor's Office, Vice President Joe Biden, left, joins New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion in New York, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/NYC Mayor's Office, Ed Reed) AP

Update 7:20 p.m. ET

Vice President Biden is back at the White House after two weeks vacation on the beaches of the Hamptons.

Biden and wife Jill were guests at the Southampton, Long Island, estate of Internet entrepreneur, social activist and big-money Democratic contributor David Bohnett.

If you didn't notice that Biden has been off the political radar screen since July 30th, then that's just the way his office wants it.

Considering the harsh & even mean-spirited press coverage First Lady Michelle Obama got for her 5-day trip to Spain, the Bidens came out way ahead.

There were a few press stories about the Biden's getaway. Gawker.com posted what it said were photos of the VP and Dr. Jill sunbathing on the beach. It looked like them from a distance. No closeups.

But Mrs. Obama drew fire at home and abroad for her Spanish sojourn with daughter Sasha. She was accused of vacationing in unseemly opulence while so many Americans still struggle to dig themselves out of the recession. One pundit unfairly portrayed Mrs. Obama as "Marie Antoinette" - oblivious to the needs of real working people.

It seems the wife of the president draws more attention than the Vice President. And a private vacation trip abroad for a sitting first lady is unusual, though not unprecedented.

Pictures: Michelle Obama in Spain

Vice President and Mrs. Biden had just as many if not more Secret Service with them on Long Island as did the First Lady. And the Bidens didn't take Greyhound out to the Hamptons. Air Force Two and its crew were on standby at a nearby airport.

In fact, there was an oops incident as Air Force Two was taking off this morning from Grabeski Airport in Westhampton Beach, Long Island to fly the Bidens back to D.C.

The backwash from one of the two powerful engines on Air Force Two lifted a Piper Cub parked nearby off the ground. When it fell back to the tarmac, its wing was damaged or broken. The military version of the Boeing 757 serving as Air Force Two took off with no further incident, safely returning the Vice President to the nation's capital, where he took part in a situation review on Iraq and had lunch with President Obama.

Major Michelle Lai, a spokeswoman for the 89th Air Wing at Andrews AFB, said the Air Force was dispatching a team to investigate the Air Force Two incident earlier in the day.


Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
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