WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden was heading to a place very familiar to him on Tuesday — the U.S. Virgin Islands — to enjoy downtime and warmer weather and to ring in a new year with family.
The White House announced Monday night that the president and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, will leave Washington on Tuesday for St. Croix, one of three islands that make up US territory in the Caribbean. St. John and St. Thomas are the other two islands.
St. Croix is a tropical getaway that Biden has been straying into at least since he served as vice president, from 2009 to 2017.
“We’ve missed him for the past two years,” Beth Moss Mahar, a retired lawyer and island resident for nearly three decades, said in a phone interview.
Biden vacationed at his home in Delaware in 2020 and 2021, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week’s visit to St. Croix will be his first as president of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“We are extremely honored,” Del said Tuesday. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat who represents the Virgin Islands in Congress, in a phone interview.
“In the past when he and his family came, of course, President Biden’s sightings were almost legend,” she said.
Any observation will now be altered by the fact that Biden is considered one of the most powerful men in the world. As such, he now travels with a much larger footprint than when he was vice president, including a large contingent of US Secret Service agents, White House staff and journalists covering the trip.
Biden and his wife like to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day in warmer weather, and Jill Biden likes the beach, aides said. Some family members were to join them.
“We always look forward to him coming and we really understand that this is a relaxing place for him and Jill and any other family he may bring with him and so we leave him alone and just let him relax,” said said Donna Christensen, who was Plaskett’s predecessor in Congress.
“He usually says, ‘In my next life, I live in Sainte-Croix,'” she said in a phone interview.
Plaskett and Christensen both expressed hope that the focus on where Biden is spending his year-end vacation will amplify challenges facing the US Virgin Islands and other US territories, such as threats climate change, including more powerful hurricanes and rising sea levels, as well as the challenges these governments face with aging infrastructure.
Biden was due to return to Washington on January 2. It’s the day before the president’s Democratic Party cedes control of the House of Representatives to the Republican Party after November’s midterm elections, potentially complicating Biden’s legislative agenda for the remaining two years of his term. .