While the sight of a US president enjoying some quality time with his loved ones provided a long-deprived sense of normalcy to most Americans, there were some who criticized Biden for taking the time off.
As he comes upon completing a month in the White House as the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden finally slowed down for some quality family time. After spending his third week in office visiting the Pentagon, touring the National Institutes of Health, and working on the administration's COVID-19 response, the president made his first presidential visit to Camp David—the historic retreat for U.S. leaders—where he beat his granddaughter Naomi Biden at Mario Kart. Posting a snap of the pair facing off in a round of the video game to her Instagram story, Naomi wrote: "Secret Service made an exception and let him drive himself!"
President Biden competing in Mario Kart against granddaughter Naomi. She says he “barely” won. pic.twitter.com/JhDMX1TTMv— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) February 14, 2021
Below the photo that showed the pair sitting side-by-side with their own steering wheel at the arcade-style game, the 27-year-old added: "A little rusty but he still won (barely)." While the sight of a US president indulging in some relatable activities with his loved ones provided a long-deprived sense of normalcy to most Americans, there were some—like Donald Trump Jr.—who conveniently found ways to twist it into something unpleasant. "Joe Biden is playing Mario Kart while Americans are dying... am I doing this right?" Trump Jr. tweeted, seemingly having forgotten the mess his own father created.
Maybe you should ask Congress and the Senate, since his proposal on that is already released— The Ginger Ninja (@TheGinjeNinja) February 14, 2021
Yes🤦 after four years a Agolf Twitler golfing & watching TV let's tell about Biden chilling with his granddaughter 🤨— Blue rainbow 🌈 (@Bluerai48855500) February 14, 2021
...is this a joke? The last guy forced the secret service to rent golf carts even tho he owned the golf course.— James M Miller (@JamesMMiller2) February 14, 2021
As NBC4 points out, Camp David has long been for presidents a respite from Washington where they can take a breather and relax with family. The compound — located in the Maryland mountains just 60 miles from the capital—has been a personal hideaway for every president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt first went there in 1943. According to Michael Giorgione, who served as commander of Camp David for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and wrote the book Inside Camp David, it has also been the site of major diplomatic negotiations and policy discussions throughout history.
We bought him some swag since it’s Presidents’ Day weekend and he’s “literally” President. pic.twitter.com/RpcE7Q8ugC— Naomi Biden (@NaomiBiden) February 14, 2021
Every president—except Donald Trump who was partial to his own private clubs—has used Camp David "for a personal getaway, an escape from the clamor and the noise and the likes of the White House, and really go to this exclusive mountain retreat. That's one purpose. And the other is to bring world leaders there," Giorgione said. The compound reportedly features a bowling alley, an archery range, a movie theater, a skeet shooting range, horseback riding, and tennis courts. Speaking to reporters before departing Washington for the compound, Biden revealed that he planned to "just hang out with the family and do what we always do."
And just to make sure the job title doesn’t get to his head... pic.twitter.com/uzafnSSWaH— Naomi Biden (@NaomiBiden) February 14, 2021
However, he did take some work with him for the long weekend. On Saturday, he met with national security advisers and issued a statement on Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial. He also signed an executive order re-establishing a White House office on religious engagement the following day. Giorgione explained that Camp David's relaxed atmosphere has helped form lasting relationships with many foreign dignitaries. "There's a certain feeling of going to camp as opposed to the White House, which is a little more formal, a little more stuffy if you'd say, and certain presidents find a much better connection at camp than they do at the White House," he said.
It’s nice having a President who sees going to Camp David as a privilege, and not as a shithole— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) February 15, 2021
So glad Camp David is being used and enjoyed again! They drove through my home town today.— Cheri Jacobus (@CheriJacobus) February 13, 2021
Biden makes first trip as U.S. president to rustic Camp David retreat https://t.co/AQNUVLUJ6a
Cool! I just got to say it’s so nice to have President Biden re-establish norms like spending time with his family at camp David instead of running up taxpayer bills at garish family owned hotels— Frank J (@frankj623) February 14, 2021
Giorgione added that he expects Biden to use the space to host foreign leaders once the pandemic under control. When foreign leaders descend on Camp David, it can be like an "adult sleepover," he said. "Going to camp in the cabins creates an atmosphere where leaders are very close together. There's no large conference room with chandeliers and coffee service. This is a homespun, rustic get-together." Attendees "walk the trails together, we go for a bike ride, we sit down at a nice table in a small conference room," Giorgione continued. "It created this art of having to get down in each other's personal space, and find time to legitimately talk."