Thursday, March 15, 2012

Putin at Camp David

President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin  at Camp David - Sept. 26, 2003 

5/9/2012 UPDATE:  Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G8 Summit and will send Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instead. 

When the White House unexpectedly announced that the G8 Summit was going to be held at Camp David instead of Chicago, several theories emerged regarding the reason for the switch. Occupy protesters believed the move was made because the White House feared the upcoming protests in Chicago. President Obama said that he wanted to meet at Camp David because it would provide a more intimate setting for discussions with the G8 leaders.

However, the Russian press reported that the move was made in an attempt to improve relations with President-elect Vladimir Putin since he may not attend the NATO Summit if progress is not made in missile defense negotiations. The Kommersant newspaper wrote "an undesirable situation could occur if after the G8 Summit Putin decides to walk out of the Chicago meeting”.

So, I thought it would be interesting (and timely) to write a post about Putin's previous visit to Camp David. President George W. Bush met with Putin at Camp David in September 2003 to discuss bilateral cooperation.

According to this story in Pravda, the two leaders arrived at the retreat in separate helicopters and headed toward Putin's cabin (which looks like Dogwood from the above photo) in a caravan of 15 golf carts.

The full text of the remarks of President Bush and President Putin can be read on this archived version of

The only other 2012 G8 leader that has been to Camp David before is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who met with President Bush there in 2008.  (Update 5/6/12: Sarkozy lost his re-election bid to 
Fran├žois Hollande)

Putin - Bush press conference at Camp David

President Bush and President Putin in a discussion in the Aspen Lodge

Update 3/21/12:  When asked if President-elect Putin will meet with President Obama when he attends the G8 Summit at Camp David, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied diplomatically:  "I assume with much certainty that attending the G8 summit, which will take take in the United States, without meeting with the U.S. President would be impossible".

Sources: The White HouseNew York Times; Voice of Russia; OccupiedChicagoTribune; The Washington Post; Reuters; Pravda; RIA Novosti

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ice Skating at Camp David

Three children ice skating at Camp David in February 1962

The JFK Library recently released some photos of children skating on a frozen pond at Camp David in 1962. The children were not identified in the photo. The only reference I could find on the internet about ice skating at Camp David came from a 1963 newspaper article about Bobby Kennedy's 50 mile hike in response to President Kennedy's fitness initiative. The story mentioned that he went ice skating at Camp David with his family the following day.

Ice skating pond at Camp David - 1962

Sources: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library; The News and Courier

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Skiing at Camp David

The Carter family cross-country skiing near Camp David in 1979

In his Sharing Good Times book, President Carter wrote about his family's winter activities at Camp David: "We enjoyed our first experience with cross-country skiing within the presidential retreat and along the hiking and equestrian trails in nearby state parks. We also had sleds and snowmobiles that we used on the steep slopes within the camp."

He went on to describe one mishap: "I was skiing down a steep slope near our cottage on very thin snow, hit an exposed rock, and broke my left clavicle just two weeks before my term as president expired".

This 1978 newspaper article describes President Carter's plans to have his family take up cross-country skiing at Camp David. He told reporters he thought the terrain at Camp David would be ideal and that they could follow the perimeter fence for two and a half miles.

The Jimmy Carter Library has all of the Carter Presidential Daily Diaries available online. The February 11, 1979 diary describes a day skiing around Catoctin Mountain Park; having lunch at the Misty Mount Lodge; and then skiing to the park visitors center. This March 1980 diary describes the President and his party departing Camp David on skis, briefly returning to Laurel Lodge and then going out again for more cross-country skiing.

Clintons skiing at Camp David
The Clintons also enjoyed cross-country skiing at Camp David.

President Clinton was quoted in a newspaper article about a 1994 trip to Camp David: "I didn't set any Nordic records yesterday cross-country skiing, but we had a wonderful time."

Sources: Sharing Good Times by Jimmy Carter; Gettysburg Times; Jimmy Carter Library; People; National Park Service; Milwaukee Journal