The Washington Post

President Obama escapes the White House again

The bear is loose. Again.

[posttv url="" ]


President Obama hit another burger joint Tuesday, heading to FireFlies in Alexandria, Va., for his favorite lunch item with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Owner Marylisa Lichens wrote the president in March and asked him to try the best burger around. So Obama and a phalanx of Secret Service road-tripped over the Potomac River.

Obama has been bursting the so-called White House bubble quite a bit recently as the weather has warmed up here in Washington. Over the course of his presidency Obama has grumbled about the lack of privacy and inability to go about normal life that come with the office. But he seems to have a real case of senioritis this spring.

"These were events that the president genuinely enjoyed. He was pleased to have a chance to get outside of the bubble a little bit and to shake some hands and to visit with some folks," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday when asked about the jaunts.

On Monday, Obama and his chief of staff ducked out of the White House and walked to a nearby Starbucks. Obama ordered a grande tea. Last month he strolled across the Ellipse on his way to a monument dedication, shaking hands with passersby and snapping photos with bystanders. "The bear is loose!" Obama said, suit jacked tossed over his shoulder. (Obama also referred to himself as "the bear" at Starbucks.) He stopped by a Little League game en route to a fundraiser. And Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took employees on a Washington construction project out for lunch at Shake Shack.

A lot of these walkabouts are tied -- albeit it quite loosely -- to the "theme" weeks the White House has adopted.

Obama's trip to Shake Shack? Part of infrastructure week, where he and Biden traveled the country to highlight the need to increase investment in America's infrastructure. Doing so, they said, will create jobs and alleviate congestion. "If Congress does not act by the end of the summer, we could have hundreds of projects like this stop," the president told reporters while eating a burger. When Obama went to the Little League game the White House noted that it foreshadowed a trip Obama was about to take to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.,where the president talked about the importance of tourism. His spokesman's daughter played on one of the teams. During Tuesday's lunch outing, Obama dined with Duncan during a week the White House is devoting to education and trying to offer some relief to students saddled with thousands of dollars in student loans. Obama told patrons at FireFlies that he wanted to shake everybody's hand, but there would be no photos.

"I've got to get back to work pretty quick," he said.

Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debate Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
What to expect tonight
Tonight's debate is likely to focus on the concerns of African American and Latino voters. Clinton has focused in recent days on issues like gun control, criminal-sentencing reform, and the state of drinking water in Flint, Mich. Sanders has been aggressively moving to appeal to the same voters, combining his core message about economic unfairness with his own calls to reform the criminal-justice system.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.