President Barack Obama, who turns 52 on August 4, celebrated his birthday in a quiet yet somewhat predictable way, by playing a round of golf with friends before jetting off to Camp David.
Barack Obama left the White House unusually early Saturday morning for the half-hour trip by motorcade to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to squeeze in some golf before the celebration was to shift to the presidential retreat.
Before leaving, officials said Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser updated him on a potential al-Qaeda threat that led the State Department on Friday to issue a global travel warning to Americans and order the weekend closure of 21 embassies and consulates across the Muslim world.
The White House said there were three golfing foursomes, which included some of Barack Obama’s friends from Hawaii, where he grew up, and Chicago, where he lived before becoming president, as well as current and former aides.
Barack Obama celebrated his 52nd birthday with family and friends during a quiet weekend at Camp David
Among them were childhood friends Bobby Titcomb and Mike Ramos, and Chicago pals Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker. White House aides Marvin Nicholson and Sam Kass, an assistant chef, rounded out the group, along with Reggie Love, who for years had been Barack Obama’s personal assistant, or “body man”, and basketball buddy until he left the White House in late 2011 to finish the course work for an MBA.
His week ahead included travel to the West Coast to discuss plans to help homeowners, appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and visit with troops at Camp Pendleton.
Barack Obama also has a White House meeting Thursday with the prime minister of Greece.
House Democrats presented Barack Obama with a birthday cake when he went up to the Capitol this week, and American Legion youth members sang “Happy Birthday” to him during a White House visit late last month.
For last year’s birthday, which fell during his heated campaign for re-election, Barack Obama also celebrated with a round of golf and quiet time at Camp David, proving that he is a creature of habit. But he later held several birthday-themed campaign fundraisers in Chicago, including one at his family’s South Side home.
The White House has released a picture of President Barack Obama skeet-shooting – seemingly to settle a row over whether he had fired a gun before.
Barack Obama recently told the The New Republic magazine: “Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.”
The photo, dated 4 August 2012, shows Barack Obama standing in jeans, polo shirt, sunglasses and ear defenders, aiming a shotgun that has a smoking barrel.
The president is due in Minneapolis on Monday to discuss his gun-control proposals.
Asked this week why more had not been said about Barack Obama’s shooting habits before, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “Because when he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs.”
The photograph apparently shows Barack Obama shooting clay targets on the range at the Maryland retreat.
The White House has released a picture of President Barack Obama skeet-shooting, seemingly to settle a row over whether he had fired a gun before
The New Republic interview, carried in the magazine’s February 11 issue, quotes Barack Obama as saying he has great respect for US hunting traditions, while advising gun-control advocates to be better listeners in the firearms debate.
“I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations,” the president is quoted as saying.
“And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake. Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas.
“And if you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family’s traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that.”
“So it’s trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes,” Barack Obama said.
President Barack Obama last month proposed sweeping measures on guns, including a renewed ban on assault rifles and wider background checks on buyers.
The announcement came a month after the 14 killings of 20 children and six adults at a primary school in Connecticut.
G8 leaders of the world’s most powerful economies say they want debt-stricken Greece to remain in the eurozone.
In their summit communique, G8 leaders also committed themselves to promoting growth alongside fiscal responsibility.
However, the leaders acknowledged “the right measures are not the same for each of us”.
Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone was high on the agenda, following inconclusive elections there.
The leaders of France, Germany, the US, the UK, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia have been meeting at Camp David in the US state of Maryland.
“We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the eurozone while respecting its commitments,” the statement said.
The global economic recovery was showing signs of progress, they said, but “significant headwinds persist”.
G8 leaders are divided on whether to continue with austerity or back stimulus measures instead.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel favors austerity, while newly elected French President Francois Hollande wants to pursue policies for greater growth, as does President Barack Obama.
G8 leaders of the world's most powerful economies say they want debt-stricken Greece to remain in the eurozone
There are caveats but the first line of the communique – about promoting growth and jobs – means Presidents Obama and Hollande have won the day.
However, it is not clear that Angela Merkel has got their message and is prepared to act on it, our correspondent adds.
US officials said Angela Merkel would hold a one-on-one meeting with Barack Obama later on Saturday.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said there would be another key meeting in June in Rome, where he would host Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel.
Earlier, UK Prime Minister David Cameron called for deficit reduction.
“There is a growing sense of urgency that action needs to be taken, contingency plans need to be put in place and the strengthening of banks, governments, firewalls and all of those things need to take place very fast,” he told reporters at Camp David.
The likelihood of Greece leaving the euro is growing.
The office of the Greek interim prime minister said on Friday that Angela Merkel had suggested the country hold a referendum on euro membership on election day, but the German chancellor’s cabinet dismissed this as “false”.
Greek voters will again go to the polls on 17 June after earlier elections failed to produce a viable coalition to run the country.
A caretaker government was sworn in this week after elections.
Investors fear any refusal by Athens to impose deep spending cuts agreed under a bailout deal could result in the country quitting the bloc of 17 countries that use the euro.
Two opinion polls published on Saturday showed the anti-bailout left-wing Syriza bloc neck and neck with centre-right New Democracy, both on about 25%.
Larger countries such as Spain or Italy struggling to ease their debt loads might then become vulnerable, potentially triggering wider eurozone upheaval and even a global financial crisis to rival the one of 2008.
The G8 summit has now moved on to other issues, including food security, energy and climate, partnerships in North Africa and the Middle East and the war in Afghanistan.
After the G8 summit ends on Saturday evening, most of the leaders will decamp to Chicago to join a larger group of international officials for a NATO summit on Sunday and Monday, at which Afghanistan is expected to be the main item on the agenda.
Three men arrested in Chicago on suspicion of planning to throw petrol bombs at the NATO summit have been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.
Prosecutor Anita Alvarez said the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama and the home of mayor Rahm Emanuel were among the targets.