(WASHINGTON) — President Obama spent his Saturday on the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base, his first trip to the links since the sequester cuts took effect on March 1.
Obama was joined on the course by friend and Chicago businessman, Marty Nesbitt, White House staffer Michael Brush, and body man Marvin Nicholson.
On his last golf outing, Obama played a round with Tiger Woods at a golf club in Palm City, Florida. That round drew heavy criticism from the White House press corps because the press was not allowed access.
Earlier this month, some Republicans attacked the president’s penchant for golfing after tours at the White House were cancelled due to the sequester cuts.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, introduced an amendment to the continuing resolution which would cut funding for the president’s transportation to and from golf games until the White House tours resumed, but the measure was not included in the final CR approved by Congress.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joined in the criticism of the president’s golf hobby arguing that the trips require costly Secret Service protection.
“The president will use up more Secret Service time guarding him while he golfs than it would take to keep the White House tours open all year,” Gingrich said in an interview with CNN.
But one prominent politician – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – rose to the president’s defense, saying he should be golfing more to strengthen his relationships.
“I find it fascinating, people criticize him for taking people to dinner – he should be doing that every night. They criticize him for going and playing golf with people who he’s got to deal with. He should be doing that every weekend. You always can work better with somebody that you have a chance to build a social relationship with,” Bloomberg said on CBS’ Face the Nation earlier this month.
Since March 1, the president has attended his daughter’s basketball games and played hoops at a basketball court close to the White House on the weekends. Last week, he was traveling home from a trip to Israel and Jordan.
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN