The Washington Post

Obama: Plan for nightcap with press in Iowa foiled by Secret Service

Passersby walk past a sign advertising drinks, including cocktails inspired by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, at the entrance of a restaurant in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Steven Senne/AP)

President Obama found that out the hard way Tuesday evening when he says he attempted to make a surprise visit to the Duck City Bistro in Davenport, Iowa, where a key interest group was having drinks: the White House press corps.

The way Obama tells it, he was planning to slip away and join the reporters for a pint or two but was stymied when his Secret Service detail got wind of the plan. (Perhaps the federal agents were being particularly strict considering one of their own was arrested in Decorah a few days before the president arrived on suspicion of driving under the influence.) Recounting the tale of his misadventure to press pool reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, after he had finished the bus tour, Obama apologized for not being able to hang out after hours.

Then he referred to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who had joined the media at the bistro, and quipped: “I hope Jay picked up the tab.”

Nope, the reporters on the plane quickly retorted in unison.

“That’s terrible. That’s shameful,” the president said with a smile.

Asked if he had a good time on the trip, Obama replied, “I had a great time.” And he added that he’d like to take more trips outside Washington: “Absolutely. The more we’re out of Washington, the better off -- look, you guys all have smiles on your faces. You’ve had some cookies, some pie.”

Obama, who returned to Washington late Wednesday, will leave again Thursday for a 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, for which he has taken a good deal of grief from pundits. (Read more about the potential political costs of this vacation for the president here.)

Don’t count on Obama trying to grab a beer with the press corps during his down time. As he departed the press cabin on Air Force One, the president bid his chroniclers adieu.

“I’ll see you next week,” he said.

More on PostPolitics

See more photos of Obama at the Vineyard

Fact checker: A presidential bus tour of excuses?

Obama and the political perils of the Vineyard vacation

More Obama coverage

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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