President Obama patted his communications director on the back and said, "the bear's loose" before sneaking off to Starbucks with chief of staff Denis McDonough, according to an important AP report on this developing story. Obama was supposed to go to a Dunkin' Donuts, but apparently changed his mind without telling communications director Jennifer Palmieri, who was trying to get the reporters who follow the president everywhere to go to Dunkin'.
According to Politico, Obama's second recent trip off the beaten path (which in this case, meant a slightly different than intended walk down Pennsylvania Avenue surprised a bunch of tourists, with the president "greeting the crowd as he went, waving, shaking hands, even blowing kisses." Here's more from McClatchy's write-up:
The White House press pool didn’t spot Obama until he was leaving the coffee shop at 17th and Pennsylvania avenues, carrying what reporters said appeared to be a venti-sized beverage.
During the walk, Obama instructed the press pool to keep its distance and give him room, at one point saying to the White House “wranglers,” who work with the press “let's test your wrangling skills."
In all, it sounds similar to the crowd that greeted Obama a couple of weeks ago, when he took an off-the-schedule walk to the Department of Interior for a meeting. He even used the same bear joke. Here he is earlier in May.
Obama's new thing for brief, unscheduled walks harkens back to his impromptu visit to get some sandwiches during the shutdown late last year.