Barack Obama, John Boehner golfing Saturday
Updated: June 19, 2011 - 07:47 am
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner put partisanship aside, at least on the golf course, and teamed up to triumph on the final hole Saturday in their long-awaited links outing.
The match pitted the political rivals against Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich. The match was won on the 18th hole, with the winning partners each pocketing a $2 prize.
The question now is whether a partnership forged on the tees, fairways and greens of a military base course can yield success in the policy arena.
Obama and Boehner find themselves on opposite sides of everything from deficit reduction to the military campaign in Libya.
Aides to both men played down the chances of deals being struck on the par-72 East Course at Joint Base Andrews, but acknowledged the outing could improve a relationship that is respectful, but hardly close.
Tee time for the foursome was 9:30 a.m. at Obama's home course at the base outside Washington.
The White House made a rare exception and allowed the press to watch Obama and his playing partners finish the first hole, a par 5.
Biden was cool under pressure, sinking a 15- to 20-foot putt.
"Did you all catch that?" Obama shouted to reporters gathered near the green.
The president, dressed in dark pants, a white polo shirt and a baseball cap, sank a short putt after missing a 12-footer.
Kasich, a former congressman, missed a 30-footer, then tapped in for par. Boehner, one of the best golfers in Congress, gave a hearty "Oh yeah!" after draining a short putt.
Obama, who is not in Boehner's links league, patted the speaker on the back as they headed toward the second hole, the president driving their cart.
After wrapping up the match, the foursome headed to the clubhouse, where they had a cold drink and talked with service members. They also caught some action at the U.S. Open, the professional tournament going on in suburban Maryland.
While Obama is an avid golfer, he rarely plays with anyone outside of his small cadre of close aides. His rounds run long, usually well over five hours, and those close to the president say he revels in the chance to get out of the spotlight.
Obama's penchant for privacy extends to his social life. He surrounds himself with a tight inner circle of family and friends, and rarely socializes with other politicians in Washington. In fact, Saturday's golf outing was one of the first times Obama and Boehner have gotten together for anything other than a policy meeting.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier in the week that the outing was "meant to be an opportunity for the speaker and the president, as well as the vice president and Ohio governor, to have a conversation, to socialize in a way that so rarely happens in Washington."
The Obama-Boehner golf outing coincided with White House and congressional negotiations on a long-term deficit reduction plan and raising the government's borrowing authority. Republicans have insisted on significant cuts of about $2 trillion over 10 years or 12 years before agreeing to increase the current $14.3 debt ceiling, which the government says it will surpass Aug. 2.
Aides for both men tried to lower expectations that a deal on the deficit - or anything else, for that matter - would be reached on the course. But it couldn't hurt.
"It may move you a little bit closer toward the kind of compromise that we need to get the things done that the American people expect us to get done," Carney said. "If it takes a few hours out on the golf course to help that process, I think it's a worthwhile thing to do."
Budget progress? Obama, Boehner team up to win $2 each
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner put partisanship aside, at least on the golf course, and paired up for a victory in a high-stakes match against the vice president and the governor of Ohio.
Don't think their winning payoff will come close to making a dent in the national debt.
Obama and Boehner edged Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Gov. John Kasich on the 18th hole of the match at a military base outside the capital.
The president and the speaker each pocketed a $2 prize.
The four went from the 18th green to the clubhouse to enjoy a cold drink and visit with service members at the base.
Fore! Obama, Boehner hit the links
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama drove the cart and House Speaker John Boehner celebrated a short putt as their much anticipated golf outing got under way Saturday at a military base outside the nation's capital.
Vice President Joe Biden earned the commander in chief's approval when he sank a 15-to-20 foot putt on the first hole, a par five, at Joint Base Andrews.
"Did you all catch that?" Obama shouted to reporters gathered near the green.
The president sent his putt just past the hole before tapping in. Boehner, considered one of Washington's best golfers, gave a hearty "Oh yeah!" after draining a short putt.
Obama, who's not in Boehner's links league, patted the speaker on the back as they headed toward the second hole, the president driving their cart.
Aides say the time that Obama and Boehner are spending on the course could help improve a relationship that's respectful, but hardly close.
But 18 holes probably won't give them enough time to hash out their policy differences on everything from the debt to the U.S. military involvement in Libya.
The outing comes against the backdrop of negotiations between the White House and Congress over a long-term deficit reduction plan that will set the stage for increasing the amount of money the government can borrow.
Republicans have insisted on significant cuts of about $2 trillion over 10 years or 12 years before agreeing to increase the current $14.3 debt ceiling, which the government says it will surpass Aug. 2.
Biden is leading a group of bipartisan lawmakers in deficit talks, and he was Obama's golf partner.
Boehner picked a fellow Ohio Republican, budget-cutting Gov. John Kasich, to join him for the round. Kasich was House Budget Committee chairman in the 1990s when Republicans were negotiating budgets with Democratic President Bill Clinton.
While both sides say they're optimistic about the progress being made in the deficit talks, Boehner has suggested he and the president may need to get more closely involved in order to reach a deal.
The White House has played down any expectations about that happening on the golf course.
"I can say with great confidence that they will not wrap up the 18th hole and come out and say that we have a deal," Carney said.
Policy tensions between Obama and Boehner also have extended to the U.S. military campaign in Libya.
Boehner led the House in passing a resolution that chastised Obama for failing to provide a "compelling rationale" for U.S. involvement, and has said Obama is in violation of the War Powers Act. In return, the White House has sought to discredit Boehner's position on the act, sending reporters old statements Boehner made questioning the constitutionality of the measure.
Boehner had a clear advantage over Obama on the scorecard.
The speaker reportedly shoots in the low-80s, good enough for the magazine Golf Digest to recently rank him 43rd among 150 prominent Washington golfers. The president, on the other hand, was ranked 108th.
"Boehner's a much better golfer than I am, so I'm expecting him to give me some strokes," Obama said in a recent television interview.
The president is likely to get a boost from Biden — Golf Digest's 29th best golfer in Washington.
White House officials are playing coy about whether they will release the score.
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.