Obama's staff beats the boss to the door for vacation

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The Obama family heads for its Martha’s Vineyard vacation until this weekend. But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made it clear Thursday morning that much of the president’s staff has already left muggy Washington for more pleasant destinations.

At a meeting with reporters in his office, Gibbs was asked about a plan floating around Capitol Hill under which health care legislation would be split into two parts. Popular proposals – like requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions – would go into a bill that might attract Republican votes. More expensive or controversial items – like a public insurance options – would go into a second measure to be passed only with Democratic votes.

Gibbs promised reporters he would try to offer guidance on where the White House stood on the matter at the afternoon press briefing.

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“My only caveat is like 90 percent of the White House is on vacation, and I am trying desperately to track them down,” Gibbs said.

And he made it clear the president plans to actually get some down time next week in Martha’s Vineyard. He noted that some news stories talked about Obama meeting with his staff next week on the plan to split health care legislation in two.

“Unless that includes [frequent Obama golf partner] Marvin Nicholson on some golf course in Martha Vineyard, I would counsel you against” the reports, he said.

While the White House has not released details, the first family reportedly has rented the Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a 28-acre estate with a swimming pool and access to a private beach. The Obama family will pick up the cost of the family’s accommodations with the government covering the tab for Secret Service and staff quarters.

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