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Obama begins Martha’s Vineyard vacation a day early

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama greeted well-wishers upon arrival on Martha's Vineyard on Friday.
President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama greeted well-wishers upon arrival on Martha's Vineyard on Friday.(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

CHILMARK — President Obama’s summer vacation has begun.

Obama arrived on Martha’s Vineyard on Friday, a day earlier than scheduled, for a 17-day break before he plunges into a busy September and fresh battles with the Republican-controlled Congress over Iran, spending, and other issues.

Obama, Michelle Obama, and their family, along with dogs Bo and Sunny, flew aboard Air Force One to the US Coast Guard station on Cape Cod, and then boarded helicopters for the short hop to the island.

The Obamas arrived at their vacation home in Chilmark, the same seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom property they rented last year, after a 20-minute drive over the picturesque island’s gently rolling hills and verdant green spaces.

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White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama realized he could spend Friday night on the island after all, and ‘‘get started on his vacation first thing” Saturday morning, so he decided to go for it.

Obama sounded jovial earlier Friday as he wrapped up his duties at the White House and looked ahead to the getaway.

‘‘I know you’ll miss me,’’ he joked to reporters who watched him sign a bill to preserve wilderness land in Idaho.

The president tries to lay low during vacation, and aides said he was not expected to make any news during his stay.

The vacation is Obama’s sixth on the island since he became president. He did not vacation here during his 2012 reelection campaign.

With no official appearances scheduled, Obama is expected to fill his days with leisurely rounds of golf, beach outings, bike rides, and hikes with his wife and daughters, and dinner with their friends at some of the island’s top restaurants.

He traveled with a small group of aides, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who will update him as developments warrant.

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There is a chance that Obama and former Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination to succeed him, will see each other on the island. They are both expected to attend a birthday party for Ann Jordan, the wife of Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan.

The Obamas are hoping for a more relaxed getaway. Last year’s vacation began as the US started airstrikes against militants in Iraq. He interrupted the vacation several times to address political developments in Iraq, the beheading of American journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants, and violent protests that erupted in Ferguson, Mo., following the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by a white police officer.

He also returned to the White House last summer to attend meetings. There are no plans for a similar trip before his vacation ends on Aug. 23.