Bush Takes Another Vacation in Crawford--Breaks Reagan's Record

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President Bush is getting the kind of break most Americans can only dream of: nearly five weeks away from the office, loaded with vacation time.

The president departed yesterday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening for a round of clearing brush, visiting with family and friends, and tending to some outside-the-Beltway politics. It is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.

The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford -- nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White House itself. Weekends and holidays at Camp David or at his parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, bump up the proportion of Bush's time away from Washington even further.

Presidents have often sought refuge from the pressures of Washington and from life in the White House, which Harry Truman called the crown jewel of the American prison system.

Richard Nixon favored Key Biscayne, Fla. Bush's father preferred Maine. Bill Clinton, lacking a home of his own, borrowed a house on Martha's Vineyard, except for two years when political adviser Dick Morris nudged him into going to Jackson, Wyo., before his re-election because it polled better.

Until now, probably no modern president was a more famous vacationer than Ronald Reagan, who loved spending time at his ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif. According to an Associated Press count, Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his eight-year presidency -- a total that Bush will surpass this month in Crawford with 3 ½ years left in his second term.


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