EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — President Barack Obama is getting off the island.
In a rare move for him, the president took a break in the middle of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to return to Washington on Sunday night for meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisers on the U.S. military campaign in Iraq and tensions between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
The White House has been cagey about why the president needs to be back in Washington for those discussions. He’s received multiple briefings on both issues while on vacation. The White House had also already announced Obama’s plans to return to Washington before the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq began and before the shooting of a teen in Ferguson that sparked protests.
Part of the decision to head back to Washington appears aimed at countering criticism that Obama is spending two weeks on a resort island in the midst of so many foreign and domestic crises.
Yet those crises turned the first week of Obama’s vacation into a working holiday. He made on-camera statements Iraq and the clashes in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb. He also called foreign leaders to discuss the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as between Israel and Hamas.
“I think it’s fair to say there are, of course, ongoing complicated situations in the world, and that’s why you’ve seen the president stay engaged,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Obama is scheduled to return to Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday and stay through next weekend.