Tuesday, December 17, 2013

President Obama And Vice President Biden Have Their Last Private Luncheon Of 2013

Lunch in the Oval Office Private Dining Room
In October, the Eater in Chief and his right-hand man set their two-term record for lunching together, meeting six times...
The White House - With President Barack Obama departing for Hawaii this Friday, he and Vice President Joe Biden will today have their last private White House luncheon of 2013.  Their 32nd scheduled lunch of the year will be at 12:30 PM in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, the site of most of their chats over chow.

The President began the tradition of weekly private power lunches with Biden in 2009, and today's is the only one in December.  It's the busy holiday season, with both hosting parties.  Sometimes they go for weeks without the catch-up confabs due to conflicting schedules: Biden traveled to Asia for six days this month, while the President had a whirlwind trip to South Africa.

October, that embattled month featuring the first federal government shutdown in 17 years, sets the record since the Administration began for the most lunches for the President and his co-pilot:  There were five on the official schedule, and a sixth "surprise" lunch.

The shutdown was Oct. 1-16, and the duo lunched together the day after the crisis began on Oct. 2, midway through on Oct. 9, and again on Oct. 16, when it seemed likely a deal had been struck to end the impasse with Congress, which included the furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and the controversial closures of National Parks, monuments, and historic sites. 

There were two more Oval Office lunches after the multi-billion dollar debacle ended, on Oct. 23 and 29.

POTUS & VPOTUS order at Taylor Gourmet
The sixth October lunch, on the 4th, was the 'surprise' visit to Taylor Gourmet, a sandwich shop located a block from the White House.  Trailed by press and a skeletal crew of aides, the President and Vice President strolled out of the mansion to pick up hoagies to go.  

At the eatery, Mr. Obama lectured House Republicans against a backdrop of delectable deli meats.

"This shutdown could be over today. We have the votes.  Speaker Boehner needs to allow the vote," President Obama said.  He and Biden would repeat that litany for the next twelve days.

Biden also dashed out of the White House to get to-go hoagies for his Oval Office lunch with the President scheduled for Nov. 21, visiting Capriotti's, a chain based in his home state of Delaware that had just opened an outlet in DC.

"I'm bringing one back for the President," Biden said as he ordered and assured all that the Delaware delicacy beats New York and Philly competitors. "The President is waiting.  I'm having lunch with him today."

A second November lunch was on the 5th.  May also had two lunches for the month. February was a three-lunch month, as were March and June.

The President and Vice President had four weekly lunches in January, April and September.

Three of the January lunches came as the President and Vice President got ready to be inaugurated for the second time on the 20th; they dined together on the 9th and then back-to-back, on the 14th and 15th.  

July, 2013 and December, 2013 both had single POTUS-VPOTUS lunches, both on the 17th of the month.  The July lunch was lucky #13 for the year, and today's, as noted, is the last of the year.  The duo did not lunch together during the month of August, when both vacationed outside of Washington, DC.

Coincidentally--or not--the President and Vice President's last private luncheon in 2012 was also on Dec. 17.  

Today's schedule...
Before their lunch today, the President and Vice President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office.  The closed press meeting is at 10:00 AM.

At 10:45 AM, the President and the Vice President will meet in the Roosevelt Room with executives "from leading tech companies to discuss progress made in addressing performance and capacity issues with HealthCare.Gov and how government can better deliver IT to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service," according to the President's schedule. The meeting "will also address national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures."  

"Finally, the President will discuss ways his Administration can partner with the tech sector to further grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility. There will be a stills only pool spray of the meeting."

Then it's time for lunch, which will be followed by a meeting with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in the Oval Office. The closed meeting is at 4:15 PM.


Photos: At top, the President & Vice President have lunch in the Oval Office Private Dining Room on Nov. 5, 2009; the White House photo was the first released of their weekly tradition.  Photos by Pete Souza/White House.