Trump picks simple over swanky, heads to Camp David

2017-06-17 11:58
US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One at the White House. (Saul Loeb,AFP)

US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One at the White House. (Saul Loeb,AFP)

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Washington - President Donald Trump is picking simple over swanky this weekend.

Nearly five months into his presidency, Trump is heading to Camp David, the government-owned retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, for the first time. A frequent weekend traveller, Trump has favoured his palatial residences in Florida and New Jersey over the wooded hideaway used by many presidents for a break from Washington.

No one expects the luxury-loving leader to make this a regular thing. After all, Trump told foreign newspapers earlier this year that Camp David was "very rustic" and "you know how long you'd like it? For about 30 minutes".

Presidents have been coming to the refuge about 110km from the White House for seven decades, and not always just for a rest.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill there in 1943, reviewing plans for the invasion of Normandy. Jimmy Carter used it for peace talks between Egypt and Israel. George HW Bush's daughter Dorothy, or "Doro", got married there.

"Everything that a president needs in the White House is built in there," says Anita McBride, who was first lady Laura Bush's chief of staff. "You have military support. You have a place to house your staff if you chose to use it. It is immediately available. ... Within 20 minutes you can be there."

A short drive from the town of Thurmont, Maryland, Camp David covers more than 50ha, with a cabin for the president and about a dozen cabins for guests. Guests can use tennis courts, a heated swimming pool, a bowling alley and a movie theatre. For the golf-loving Trump, there is a single golf hole with multiple tees.

Locals don't seem too concerned about when Trump might show up. As lifelong resident Donna Bollinger, 63, put it, the town of Thurmont often barely knows when presidents are nearby, given the secluded nature of the retreat.

Now the manager of the Bollinger Family Restaurant, she recalls as a child seeing presidents come to the town's Episcopal church. "I remember Mr Eisenhower. I remember Mr Johnson being there, and Mr Nixon," she said.

So far, Trump has preferred his own properties. He regularly headed to his private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, during the early days of his administration, embracing it as the "winter White House".

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

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