WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s awfully quiet at the White House these days.
His engagement with Congress is as limited as ever, partly because many lawmakers are focused on their own November races.
Last week, Obama spent just one full day in Washington. His only public events apart from the campaign were a ceremony honoring the Minnesota Lynx, the WNBA champions, and a brief appearance before photographers with Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, where he made no formal comments.
Some White House officials, especially those legally prohibited from engaging in the campaign, say their workloads have lessened and their hours have become more reasonable.
But those who have been through this stage of a presidency before say being left out of the action can be a bit of a downer.
“You do have this feeling like there’s a big event going on next door and you can’t go”,” said Karen Finney, who worked in the White House during President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.
The White House still makes occasional policy announcements, many with convenient campaign pegs.
The administration’s new trade enforcement case against China coincided with an election debate over whether Obama had been weak in dealing with the rising Asian power. Obama announced the case in Ohio, where some blame China for stealing manufacturing jobs.
On Friday, Obama signed a proclamation declaring Chimney Rock in Colorado a national monument, a nod to voters in the Western swing state.
Of course, the power pendulum can swing back to the White House with little warning. That happened this month when anti-American protests swept through the Middle East, including Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
The White House became a hub of action, with Obama quickly adding a Rose Garden statement to his schedule and a visit to the State Department. He also was on hand when the bodies of the dead returned to the U.S.
But he still found time in between to make a two-day campaign trip to Nevada and Colorado. Both states will help determine whether it’s Obama or Romney in the Oval Office when the action picks up again at the White House next year.