REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Everyone here has a Biden story.
Joe Mack, who owns Double Dippers ice cream parlor, says President Biden likes to recite old Irish proverbs when he comes in to get a quart of chocolate chips. Susan Kehoe, the owner of Browseabout Books, says Mr. Biden and his dog, Champ, draw a lot of onlookers when they relax on one of the benches in front of the store.
Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness has a photo on her cell phone of her standing next to a plane in Mr. Biden, off Rehoboth Avenue, the city’s main drag.
“They fit in the fabric,” said Ms. McGuiness of the President and his brood, who spent summers here before Mr. Biden bought a $ 2.7 million beach house in the North Shores, a clayey neighborhood, in 2017 Mile north of town.
Before the 2020 election, the Bidens were often a fixture in the city center, and the former Vice President often involved people in talks that sometimes had no end in sight.
“He’s wandered around free,” said Mr. Mack.
As President, Mr. Biden has made it clear through public comments – he has compared life in the White House to life in a “gilded cage” – and the frequency of his travels that he is still most comfortable in Delaware, a place which he can be issued and protected at the same time.
The Bidens own a large house in the suburbs of Wilmington, but Rehoboth, a laid-back beach town that sells buckets of french fries and Biden-themed – including orange Gatorade scented candles made in tribute to the president’s favorite drink – is one his favorite places. Amid tense negotiations with Republicans over an infrastructure package, increasing ransomware attacks on American businesses, and plans for an upcoming trip to the Group of 7 Summit in Europe, Mr Biden traveled to the beach to celebrate Jill Biden’s 70th birthday, The First lady.
Mr Biden’s propensity to return to Delaware has long been felt: during his 36 years in the Senate, Mr Biden made a point of returning to Wilmington to spend most evenings with his sons, a habit that followed his first wife, Neilia. began Biden and his little daughter Naomi Biden were killed in a car accident.
At least for now, the Bidens have one more reason: They don’t yet fully trust the staff at the residence and the security guards they haven’t directly hired, according to two people familiar with their way of thinking. (Many of the household workers are hold-ups from the previous administration, which is common with new presidents.) The Bidens still haven’t installed a White House chief candidate to run the residence. The Trump’s chief candidate, a former room manager at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, was fired on the day of inauguration.
The White House has made some adjustments for the Bidens. Delaware, on the other hand, takes almost none. Her house in Rehoboth was bought after the president promised his wife that he would buy her a beach house with the proceeds of a multi-million dollar book deal signed after he left the vice presidency. (A plaque above the entrance door reads “A promise kept”.)
“I wanted it to be the kind of place where you can come in in your wet swimsuit and barefoot and I can just take the broom and brush out the sand,” said Dr. Biden of Vogue in 2020. “And that is it. Everything is easy.”
On Thursday, the couple’s bike ride in the state park near their home took much longer than expected because the president kept stopping to speak to people, according to a person familiar with their activities. The first couple held back, although townspeople discussed where the first couple might turn up.
At DiFebo’s, an Italian restaurant that is very popular with Mr Biden, diners were hoping the President would try his favorite dish, Chicken Parmesan with Red Sauce. (Usually the first lady orders the salmon.) In the Ice Cream Store, a parlor near the boardwalk, vats of Biden’s Summer White House Cherry were waiting to be consumed.
Not this visit. Police officers in black SUVs restricted the flow of traffic on a wooded street in the neighborhood where Mr. Biden lives. A Coast Guard ship in the ocean and the sight of burly intelligence agents in summer attire were the only freebies the President was ever in town.
When Mr. Biden and Dr. Biden returned to the capital, it was a rare turnaround of a typical week for them. Aside from this week’s trip to Rehoboth – his first as president – Mr. Biden has spent nine weekends at his home in Wilmington and five at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, according to a review of his schedule. Mr Biden swapped the train for Air Force One and sometimes left Washington at short notice for even shorter trips: last week he flew back to Wilmington for the afternoon to attend the funeral of a longtime employee.
The fact that Mr. Biden is happy to return to Delaware – even in the middle of a president’s work week – didn’t seem to surprise residents here.
“I think he knows his way around Washington and is pretty familiar with what to do and where to be,” said Ms. McGuiness, who has known the Bidens for years – her sister was babysitting for the family – in an interview. “A short trip to Wilmington or Rehoboth makes sense for someone who puts family first.”
The first lady often spends less time in Washington during the week than Mr. Biden. Before his travel weekends, Dr. Biden sometimes goes to one of the family houses in Delaware individually or meets with the extended family at Camp David. She also traveled to Rehoboth alone. Ms. Kehoe, the owner of Browseabout Books, said the Bidens were generally treated as part of the scenery.
“We try to treat them like any other customer,” said Ms. Kehoe. “That’s good for us.”
The convention suggests that presidents stay near Washington and be cautious about tax-funded travel, but this concept has been tested to the limit with President Donald J. Trump. Mr Trump spent over 417 days at one of his estates, a travel habit that blurred the line between his family business and the duties of the president.
Mr Trump enjoyed the perks of being President including the staff, ceremonies, planes, and the presidential limo. Many of these advantages have long been known to Mr Biden – he had an apparatus around him similar to Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years – but he said he was uncomfortable with the insignia that comes with the presidency.
“I don’t know about you all, but I was brought up so that you weren’t looking for someone to wait for you,” Mr Biden said during a town hall-style interview. on CNN life in the White House in February. “I find myself extremely confident.”