Donald Trump once questioned the wisdom of taking vacations. "What's the point?" he asked in 2004.
But now the president is getting ready to join the annual August exodus from the town he calls "the swamp." Trump is due to set out Friday on his first extended vacation from Washington, D.C. since the inauguration — a 17-day getaway to his private golf club in central New Jersey.
The president's vacation could be driven, in part, by necessity. Everyone who works in the West Wing of the White House, including the Oval Office occupant himself, will be forced to clear out by week's end so the government can replace the balky, 27-year-old heating and cooling system.
But the White House hasn't been entertaining questions about the president's August plans.
Asked whether Trump would be leaving Washington this month, given his recent warning that Congress should stick around until it votes on healthcare legislation, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday: "We'll continue to keep you guys updated on his August schedule as those details are finalized."
Trump likes to tout his disdain for taking vacations, when the truth is he takes them constantly.
He told Larry King in an interview that year that "most of the people I know that are successful really don't take vacations. Their business is their vacation. I rarely leave. You know that," Trump said. "You and I are friends. How often do you see me going away?"
Actually, Trump gets out of town quite often. So far, he has spent 13 of his 28 weekends in office away from the White House, mostly at his properties in Palm Beach, Florida and Bedminster, NJ, according to an Associated Press count. The figures include a weekend of official travel overseas and Father's Day weekend at Camp David, the government-owned presidential retreat in Maryland.
Contrast Trump's own getaways with his criticism of President Obama's vacations and frequent golf outings before and during last year's presidential campaign.
"@BarackObama played golf yesterday. Now he heads to a 10 day vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Nice work ethic," Trump tweeted in August 2011.
But he plays golf whenever he's at his clubs; sometimes it's the full 18 holes, other times less. His staff rarely acknowledges that he plays, even when photos of him on the course pop up on social media.
Presidents have been escaping Washington's summer heat and humidity for a long time. Harry Truman played poker on the porch in Key West, FL. Ronald Reagan rode horses at his mountain ranch in California.
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both spent August vacations on Martha's Vineyard, the tiny Massachusetts island that serves as a summer playground for the rich and famous. George W. Bush retreated to his secluded Crawford, TX ranch to clear brush and ride his mountain bike.
Trump isn't the exception — even if he has preached for years that vacations are useless and a waste of taxpayer money.