WASHINGTON — President Obama just finished two leisurely weeks on Martha’s Vineyard during his annual getaway. Bill and Hillary Clinton, too, used to summer on the Vineyard during their White House years, until decamping in more recent years for the Hamptons.
George H.W. Bush retreated to his family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, while his son George W. Bush preferred to clear his head by fishing and clearing cedar on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
But as recent presidential aspirants go, Donald Trump appears to be the guy least interested in taking time off, even among this workaholic set. Outside of promoting himself and his golf courses, the New York real estate mogul turned Republican presidential nominee sees little benefit to vacations.
“It would bore and perhaps scare him. He needs constant activity and gratification,” said Abe Wallach, the Trump Organization’s former executive vice president of acquisitions and finance for nearly a dozen years, who has known Trump since 1990.
Asked when was the last time Trump took a vacation, his campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, responded with a terse e-mail: “Mr. Trump prefers to work.”
Indeed. In previous media interviews and writings, Trump professes to shunning vacation.
“Don’t take vacations. What’s the point?” he tweeted in 2012, quoting his own book “Think Like a Billionaire.” “If you’re not enjoying your work, you’re in the wrong job.”
Or, as he once put it in another post, “If you want to succeed, you cannot relax.”
And Trump had no qualms about interrupting his employees’ vacations.
“I would speak to him daily, sometimes twice a day or more, on my vacations,” Wallach said.
Barbara Res, the project manager for the construction of Trump Tower in the early 1980s, said she took only two vacations during the first four years she worked for Trump, the longest of which was a 10-day solo trip to the Canyon Ranch spa in Tucson in 1983.
“I remember him calling me when I was in Arizona. He had a problem with a union thing, and I said, ‘What the hell can I do from here?’ ” Res recalled in an interview. “He said, ‘How long are you going to be there? When are you coming back?’ ”
Res got the point. When she eventually left the job, she ended up with seven weeks of back pay for unused vacation time. (Neither Wallach nor Res is supporting Trump’s candidacy.)
Trump has long criticized President Obama for his yearly summer and winter breaks.
“He takes more vacations than any human being I’ve ever seen,” Trump told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren in 2011. “It sends a bad message. Here we have a country that really is going to hell in a handbasket. . . . And we have a president that’s constantly, whether it’s Martha’s Vineyard or someplace else, constantly on vacation.”
Trump slammed Obama again Friday for remaining on the Vineyard as Trump and his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, visited Louisiana in the wake of devastating floods. The state’s largest daily newspaper also called upon Obama to cut short his vacation and pay a personal visit. (The White House announced shortly afterward that Obama plans to visit the flood zone on Tuesday.)
Trump may have inherited his disdain for idleness from his father, Fred, who would spend Saturdays driving his children around as he checked in on his various buildings and construction sites. Trump’s own children, though, do not seem to have the same attitude about taking time off.
His daughter Ivanka made headlines last week for vacationing in Croatia with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rumored girlfriend and was photographed with her husband aboard Clinton donor David Geffen’s $200 million yacht. Trump’s sons have drawn criticism for their big game hunting excursions in Africa.
But the closest Trump comes to taking a vacation is playing golf. He owns myriad golf courses and resorts around the world, from Miami, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles to Scotland, Ireland, and Dubai. Visiting them, he says, is his way of recharging. “I’m always finding ways to improve them,” Trump told Forbes in 2009.
“Even when I’m playing golf, I’m doing business,” Trump wrote in his 2005 book. “I never stop, and I’m usually having fun. Now that my kids are joining the family business, I’m closer to them than I’ve ever been, and I’m finding out that I love relating to them just the way my father related to me — through a passion for work well done.”
Trump turns up his nose at the notion of visiting other world-class golf resorts.
“I only like to go to places that I own, because, you know, I don’t have enough time. What do I want to sit in somebody else’s resort for?” Trump said in a 2015 interview with The Daily Caller, a Washington-based conservative news site.
He was not always vacation averse. Many, many years ago, Trump did take regular non-golf-related holidays, his associates said. Each Christmas, he would go skiing in Aspen with his then-wife, Ivana, and their children.
“He only went for that one week. It was always a slow week,” Res recalled. “He was always miserable around Christmas time. We could never figure it out. Maybe because he had to go away.”
It was in Aspen in December 1989 when Trump’s mistress Marla Maples famously confronted Ivana Trump and their affair became public.
“I think that was the last year he went on vacation,” Res said.
But come November, Trump says, he’s prepared to take a “very, very nice, long vacation” if he loses the White House.
Res immediately dismissed his newly expressed desire as a “silly” idea.
“He would never take a nice, long vacation. He’s not that type,” she said. “He needs to be around people feeding his ego.”
Wallach, too, scoffed at the thought. Trump, he is certain, would instead occupy his postcampaign time with other business.
“He could be very busy suing people and various organizations as a result of his loss,” he said. “He has to be in the press every minute every single day. You can’t do that if you’re on vacation.”Tracy Jan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TracyJan.