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Obama breaches years of president-press tradition

By associated press
Sunday, April 11, 2010; A02

President Obama quietly breached years of protocol Saturday morning by leaving the White House without the press.

About two hours before reporters were supposed to be in position to leave with the president, Obama left the grounds of the White House. Members of the press were told that he was attending a soccer game of one of his daughters in Northwest Washington.

The White House press corps traditionally travels with the president anywhere he goes, inside and outside the country, to report on the president's activities for the benefit of informing the public and for historical record.

After Obama left, a press aide hastily gathered members of the news media who happened to be at the White House early or working on other matters. They rushed to a van and left the White House to catch up with the president.

Too late. By the time the press van appeared to arrive at the president's location, the press was told that he was already departing. Time to go back to the White House.

Reporters and photographers didn't have a chance to see him or his vehicle to verify his presence at any location.

Although nobody outside the White House or the press may have noticed, Obama broke years of tradition.

The small press "pool" that accompanies the president had been told to gather at the White House at 11:30 a.m. He left about 9:20 a.m.

Asked what happened, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: "The president decided this morning to attend his daughter's soccer game. The pool was assembled as soon as possible to be there as well."

Obama eventually left the White House again Saturday for a round of golf. This time, the press was with him.

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