After an in-flight party, a low-key return to the White House for the First Family and top aides...
President Obama made a victorious return to the White House on Wednesday evening after months of being serially on the road for his final, grueling campaign. Flying home from Chicago with the First Family and top advisors, the President was "exhausted," according to a top aide. The White House had planned to livestream the triumphal return--but it was cancelled due to inclement weather. Marine One could not land on the South Lawn, so the President motorcaded home from Joint Base Andrews, and was greeted by just a handful of staff and media. (Above: The President and First Family leave Chicago)
But in the air there was a celebration. President Obama was presented with a congratulatory sheet cake by the Air Force One flight crew, led by Col. Scott Turner. As the crew posed for pictures with their boss, said Press Secretary Jay Carney, the Eater in Chief was suddenly worried.
"There is somebody flying this plane, right?" President Obama asked.
Usually the President is the one who makes cake presentations aboard Air Force One, in what has become something of a signature gesture. The tables were turned.
In addition to his daughters and First Lady Michelle Obama, the President was joined on his return flight by Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, campaign advisor Robert Gibbs, senior advisors David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer, and communications strategist Ben Rhodes. Former bodyman Reggie Love was also aboard; Kass and Love on Tuesday joined the President for his Election Day good luck basketball game.
Earlier on Wednesday, President Obama visited one of his field
offices in Chicago, spending more than an hour congratulating and
thanking staff and volunteers, including campaign manager Jim Messina, the mastermind behind the winning strategy. (Above: The President hugs Messina during his visit)
Arriving home in the darkness for the first time since last Sunday, the President pulled up to the South Portico at 6:55 PM with little pomp and circumstance. He traveled in an SUV with the First Lady, while daughters Malia and Sasha traveled in a separate SUV. The First Family was greeted by just a handful of staff, Secret Service and reporters.
The President greeted the press gathered behind the ropeline as he climbed out of his SUV.
"How you guys doing?" he called.
A reporter shouted "How do you feel?"
"It's a little chilly here. It's wintertime," President Obama responded.
Another reporter shouted: "Do you feel you have a mandate?"
The President did not respond, and instead guided Malia into the mansion where they will live for four more years.
During his victory speech, the President told the nation that he will "return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever
about the work there is to do, and the future that lies ahead."
On Thursday the work begins. The President has no public events scheduled.
*Top photo by AP; second by Pete Souza/White House