We’ve been hearing complaints from the State Department press corps about Secretary John Kerry’s penchant for being dropped off at his home in Boston after a long trip overseas.
Usually the press corps then takes off for Washington, mostly just grumbling about the resultant delay in getting to their homes in this area.
But the grumbling apparently turned to anger on Sunday, when Kerry stopped in Boston to see his newborn granddaughter.
This time, the dozen reporters who travel with him (the news organizations pay for their seats) first circled Logan Airport for a half hour, waiting for a runway to be cleared. The snow kept piling up as the press and staff waited on the plane for well over an hour for him to return, wondering whether — or if– they were going to get home that night.
Upon his return, the plane taxied and they took off, having been delayed, by some estimates, at least two hours.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was questioned about this at the daily Foggy Bottom briefing Wednesday.
“Who pays for that?” a reporter asked, “and do you have any estimate of how much, for instance, the layover in Boston cost on Sunday?
She couldn’t speak immediately to the cost question, but said Kerry has “followed the same precedent set by his predecessors, many of whom also didn’t live in Washington and had homes elsewhere.” So it’s “certainly not uncommon and far from without precedent” for officials to return to their hometowns.
Well, former secretaries Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright all lived in this area. Hillary Clinton stopped off a couple of times in New York when she was secretary but then stopped doing that after some bad press, as the Loop reported at the time. Former secretary James A. Baker III may have hopped off the plane once at his home in Texas coming back from a Latin America trip.
“As it relates to this weekend,”Psaki added, “as you all know, and we’ve discussed from here, his wife has been recovering from her medical emergency in the summer of 2013. She lives in Boston. And it was in Boston where his newest grandchild was born last Friday night.” She added that “it was only appropriate that he went to visit his daughter.”
“There are certainly a number of reasons why a plane stops. To refuel is often one of them,” she said.
The need to refuel was also cited a year ago when Kerry stopped in New York shortly after his first granddaughter was born. But we thought that flight originated in Washington.
Must have a small fuel tank?