Tourist-in-Chief: President Obama Ditches Washington, D.C. To Travel All 50 States

Barack Obama
The Associated Press

President Obama is taking more of a tourist role during his last two years in office, working on his unofficial “bucket list” to travel to all fifty states as president before he leaves office.

The president on Friday will visit South Dakota, completing his fifty state tour.

His trip to Watertown will mark presidential visits to three different states in just one week. He leaves today for a trip to Oregon and on Monday he traveled to New York City.

White House aides are already highlighting Obama’s traveling milestone, as White House photographer Pete Souza is preparing a list of photos featuring the president in all 50 states.

While he might not be on the campaign trail, Obama is taking every opportunity this year to see places that he may have missed – visiting cities in red states such as Birmingham, Alabama; Lawrence, Kansas; Boise, Idaho; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

During a speech in Idaho, he admitted that he “got wupped twice” in the state during the presidential elections but had “no hard feelings” for people there.

“I’m a Kansas guy,” he said during his visit to the University of Kansas. “Now, that helped me in the caucus here in 2008. It didn’t help me as much in the general election.”

In most cases, Obama’s reason for traveling is to highlight his agenda – choosing colleges to visit to highlight his plan for free community college, or choosing manufacturing locations to highlight the economy. On Friday, he plans to visit Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to push for his trade deal.

“This is a good thing for me, to get out of Washington and talk to normal folk,” he said during a March visit in South Carolina.

During the first five months of 2015, Obama has traveled to more than 20 states for visits that usually include a speech or a town hall, or a roundtable discussion and sometimes even a few fundraisers for the DNC. He’s not running for office, but as president he still draws a big crowd of wealthy donors.

“As Michelle helpfully reminds me, I don’t have another race to run,” he joked at a fundraiser in New York earlier this week. “And she’s pretty happy about that.”

Fundraisers also give Obama the chance to spend time some of his wealthiest friends and supporters as well as meet new ones.

“There are a lot of friends here who’ve – I’ve been in your houses, too and you’ve known me before I had any gray hair, and before a lot of people could pronounce my name properly, and I’m grateful,” he told a fundraising crowd in San Francisco in February. “And for those of you who I’m meeting for the first time, thank you so much for being here.”

Obama also travels specifically to appear late night television. In March, he flew to California to appear live with Jimmy Kimmel to read some of his “mean tweets” on the show before attending a private fundraiser – his 32nd in the Los Angeles area since becoming president.

He followed a similar schedule during his visit to New York City earlier this week. After taping an appearance with David Letterman, Obama went to two different DNC fundraisers in the city.

Presidential travel also frequently aligns with golf outings. In February he spent a weekend golfing in California and in March he flew down to Florida specifically for a weekend golf trip.

Last weekend the president made a rare visit with his family to the Camp David presidential retreat – but helicoptered the 60 miles back to Andrews Air Force base for a round of golf.

Not counting his international travel, here is a list of Obama’s travel destinations in 2015 so far:

  1. Watertown, SD (Fri)
  2. Portland, OR
  3. New York, NY
  4. Everglades National Park, FL
  5. Charlotte, NC
  6. Salt Lake City, UT
  7. Louisville, KY
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Palm City, FL
  10. Birmingham, AL
  11. Cleveland, OH
  12. Los Angeles Area, CA
  13. Phoenix, AZ
  14. Atlanta, GA
  15. Selma, AL
  16. Columbia, SC
  17. Miami, FL
  18. Chicago, IL
  19. Palm Springs, CA
  20. San Francisco, CA
  21. Indianapolis, IN
  22. Philadelphia, PA
  23. Lawrence, KS
  24. Boise, ID
  25. Cedar Falls, IA
  26. Wayne, MI
  27. Phoenix, AZ