Inside Washington

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 09: U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) returns to the White House after he went outside for a coffee with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (L) June 9, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama stepped outside from the White House with McDonough to close by Starbucks for the drinks. 
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Tom DeFrank and George E. Condon Jr.
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Tom DeFrank and George E. Condon Jr.
June 12, 2014, 5 p.m.

On the Prowl

With the tri­umphant de­clar­a­tion, “The bear is loose,” Pres­id­ent Obama re­cently has twice es­caped the White House bubble and strolled off cam­pus. First, it was a leis­urely walk along the El­lipse to the In­teri­or De­part­ment on May 21. This week, it was Monday’s hike up Pennsylvania Av­en­ue to a Star­bucks. But on both oc­ca­sions, the lib­er­ated pres­id­ent made it clear he wants some people to stay in their cage — the re­port­ers who cov­er him. Both times, Obama showed clear pique that those pesky re­port­ers were ru­in­ing his jaunts. All re­cent pres­id­ents have al­lowed at least one print re­port­er close enough to mon­it­or their in­ter­ac­tions. But this pres­id­ent doesn’t like that pre­ced­ent. “C’mon, guys,” he com­plained to re­port­ers en route to In­teri­or. “You’re not go­ing to fol­low me the whole way?” Only the of­fi­cial White House pho­to­graph­er and a gov­ern­ment video­graph­er stayed close. On Monday, the White House broke from the long-ac­cep­ted norm and did not alert the pro­tect­ive press pool in time for re­port­ers to ac­com­pany the pres­id­ent. When they caught up, Obama com­plained to his aides, or­der­ing them to herd the press away. The White House Cor­res­pond­ents’ As­so­ci­ation has since pro­tested. But in­siders are de­cidedly bear­ish about the chances of restor­ing the tra­di­tion­al cov­er­age rules.

George E. Con­don Jr.

 

An Un­fa­mil­i­ar Spot

The Jeb Bush 2016 boom­let sud­denly has taken a new twist — Jeb for veep. The former Flor­ida gov­ernor has kept rig­or­ously quiet about his op­tions. Even broth­er George re­mains in the dark about his sib­ling’s lean­ings. But the big-time op­pos­i­tion of Jeb’s wife, Columba, to a pres­id­en­tial run leads many Re­pub­lic­an eld­ers to as­sume he won’t be a can­did­ate. That’s why some of these same GOP lead­ers have be­gun tout­ing Jeb as the nat­ur­al choice for the second spot. “He’s the per­fect No. 2 for any Re­pub­lic­an tick­et,” a top GOP con­sult­ant told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “It makes a world of sense.” Bush is an un­abashed con­ser­vat­ive, the the­ory goes, but a kinder, gentler ver­sion who can ap­peal to main­stream Re­pub­lic­ans, con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats, and in­de­pend­ents. He would even pass muster with con­ser­vat­ive red-hots who think he’s too es­tab­lish­ment, es­pe­cially be­cause he speaks flu­ent Span­ish and is pop­u­lar with His­pan­ic voters oth­er­wise turned off by the GOP’s hard line on im­mig­ra­tion re­form. And if Jeb has to cam­paign for only three months as a VP nom­in­ee, in­stead of more than two years as a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate, a seni­or Bush fam­ily source pre­dicts his wife would sign off. 

Tom De­Frank 

 

Mur­murs

He’s Back Sen. John Booz­man, the Arkan­sas Re­pub­lic­an who’s been out of com­mis­sion since un­der­go­ing heart sur­gery in April, re­turned to the Cap­it­ol this week. “I’m feel­ing good,” he said. “It’s kind of sad — people say­ing I look bet­ter now than be­fore I left.” Booz­man, who is serving his first term since de­feat­ing Blanche Lin­coln, said his out­look ap­pears pos­it­ive. “This dis­ease is a strange deal. If you get through it — very few people do — then you have the chance of a full re­cov­ery. I’ve done very, very well and hope­fully look for­ward to a full re­cov­ery.” If Booz­man had had to re­tire for health reas­ons, his seat might have switched parties, with Demo­crat­ic Gov. Mike Beebe tasked with ap­point­ing an in­ter­im suc­cessor.

Col­lege Try Rep. Peter Welch seems like he could have been Rep. Trey Gowdy’s old col­lege pro­fess­or. Welch, at 67, is lib­er­al and cereb­ral and doesn’t try to hide his half-bald head. Gowdy, at 49, is a con­ser­vat­ive rabble-rouser from South Car­o­lina with a blond punk hairdo. Who knew they would get along? They met through a com­mon staffer who worked for Welch when he was Ver­mont’s Sen­ate pres­id­ent. The aide then moved to South Car­o­lina to work for Gowdy. And it turns out they had more in com­mon than that. They agree that col­lege costs too much, and they co­sponsored le­gis­la­tion to curb high­er-edu­ca­tion reg­u­la­tions and per­mit al­tern­ate path­ways to col­lege de­grees. Of Gowdy, Welch says, “He’s got a weird hair­cut, but he’s a good guy.”

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