March 9th, 2013
10:36 AM ET
1 year ago

After GOP criticism of golf costs, Obama opts for basketball

(CNN) – Saturday morning dawned sunny in Washington, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-40s – in other words, perfect golf weather.

But President Barack Obama didn’t hit the links, a favorite hobby of his that came under criticism from Republicans in recent days.

He attended his daughter Sasha’s basketball game in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Republicans have argued the money spent on Secret Service protection for a presidential golf outing would be better spent on keeping the White House open for tours, which the Obama administration canceled starting this weekend, citing a need to save money because of the forced spending cuts which kicked in a week ago.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for the White House to “reopen the White House tours for children.”

“The president will use up more Secret Service time guarding him while he golfs than it would take to keep the White House tours open all year,” he said Friday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, submitted legislation which would make it illegal for Obama to use federal funds for commuting to and from golf outings until the White House resumes tours.

Reopening the White House for tours would only cost "one or two golf trips less" for Obama, he argued.

The Secret Service said canceling public tours for the remainder of the government’s financial year -– through September 30 - would save the government about $2 million. The tours through the White House East Wing require 37 agents at a cost of $74,000 per week, the agency said.

The forced federal spending cuts, known in Washington as sequestration, require the Secret Service to cut more than $84 million from its budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said in a statement, "Due to sequestration, Uniformed Division Officers normally assigned to conducting public tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House and all tours will be cancelled. This staffing measure will reduce overtime costs overall and may ultimately reduce the number of potential furloughs necessary by our agency."

Republicans have contrasted the White House tour cancelation with House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to keep Capitol Hill open four tours.

"While I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue," the Ohio Republican said in a statement.

But access to the Capitol and congressional offices has been cut. House officers said this week they will likely close building entrances and restrict business hours.

When in the nation’s capital, many of Obama’s golf outings are at the nearby Andrews military base. In February, he spent a weekend at a Palm City resort where he golfed with Tiger Woods and Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon.

– CNN’s Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Ashley Killough and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Len

    I guess it was ok for president Bush to play golf when our soldiers were dying in Iraq and he was spending a trillion dollars on a war that was fabricated!!!!! GOP are hypocrites!!!!

    March 9, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. Name lynn

    what do golf have to do with budget cuts, obama loves basketball, golf is for tiger wood the dont know his true colors, obama does. whats wrong wih the media n the news cast its about jobs, an budget cuts.

    March 9, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. shawn

    ohhh...like the retreat the Reb. took to come back with great new and improved ideas...lol..which the only thing they could come up with in 2 wks were play into latin America for votes after Obamas last term..lol...how much did this cost???

    March 9, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. Badboy

    "We owe presidents more than they owe us" Duh, you might but I dont owe them a damn thing. I stood
    on the wall for everyone to be free, not just Lousy presidents and/or congressmen. The president should lead, not golf!

    March 9, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Name Catmandew

    Another first for our fearless leader now the kids can't even go see the White House hope he is proud of his accomplishments!

    March 9, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. WiredweirdinSF

    Anyting other than working on this economy and lowering our tax burdens. He needs a distraction of some sort from the round of parties and vacations he is constantly on.

    March 9, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Dean

    Temperatures in the mid 40's is not golf weather.

    March 9, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. Dean

    The Secret Service said canceling public tours for the remainder of the government’s financial year -– through September 30 – would save the government about $2 million. The tours through the White House East Wing require 37 agents at a cost of $74,000 per week, the agency said. ---------With all of the gun laws in Washington DC why are Secret Service agents required for White House tours?

    March 9, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Logic N LA

    Freedom- Your comment is ridiculous. School kids will not know the difference. We do not remember what we never experienced. You want the White house tours reopened- write your Congressman and Senators and tell them to start doing their job and acting logical

    March 9, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. Woman In California

    I have to give it to the republicans on this one, they have the president right where they want him BRUISED AND BLEEDING FROM THEIR WHIPS. They're making a "boy" out of him and he's allowing it to happen right before our eyes. I sure hope he's got some kind of plan to have the last laugh on them.

    @GI Joe
    I couldn't agree more.

    March 9, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Why didn't they bicker when it was white president–that looted on wars nd trickle down nonsense?

    March 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. Republican supporter of President Obama

    When will crybaby Boehner turn in his golf clubs?

    March 9, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Republican supporter of President Obama

    The GOP is a disgrace. I want to see how it takes for them to complain about the basketball games.

    March 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Republican supporter of President Obama

    I think it is time the GOP face real people and face tough questions about the rampant hyperpartisanship they have engaged in and why they cannot seem to accomplish anything except complain.

    March 9, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
1 2