G-8 sum­mit moved from Chicago to Camp David

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY JULIE PACE

The White House abruptly an­nounced Mon­day that it had scut­tled plans to hold the up­com­ing G-8 eco­nomic sum­mit in Chicago, and would in­stead host world lead­ers at the pres­i­den­tial re­treat at Camp David in Mary­land.

It was an un­usu­ally late lo­ca­tion change for a large and highly scripted in­ter­na­tional sum­mit and came with lit­tle ex­pla­na­tion from the White House. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — the for­mer White House chief of staff who per­son­ally lob­bied Pres­i­dent Obama to hold the sum­mit in Chicago was in­formed only hours be­fore the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment.

White House na­tional se­cu­rity spokesman Tommy Vi­etor sim­ply said that Camp David, the rus­tic re­treat in the moun­tains of Mary­land, was a set­ting that would al­low for more in­ti­mate dis­cus­sions among the Group of Eight lead­ers. He said se­cu­rity and the pos­si­bil­ity of protests were not fac­tors in the decision, not­ing that Mr. Obama would still host the NATO sum­mit in his home­town of Chicago on May 20 and 21.

The White House said the G-8 sum­mit would take place May 18 and 19.

The White House an­nounced plans last sum­mer to hold both sum­mits back-to-back in Chicago, giv­ing the pres­i­dent a high-pro­file op­por­tu­nity to tout his for­eign pol­icy and diplo­matic cre­den­tials on his home turf in an elec­tion year.

The idea of mov­ing the G-8 to Camp David was raised to the pres­i­dent a few weeks ago, a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said, adding that the pres­i­dent was in­trigued by the nov­elty of the idea and asked staff whether they could pull off the change.

The of­fi­cial spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity about in­ter­nal White House think­ing.

Adding to the cu­ri­ous na­ture of the White House an­nounce­ment was the fact that Mr. Obama rarely spends time at his pres­i­den­tial re­treat. And un­like many of his pre­de­ces­sors, Mr. Obama has never hosted a world leader at Camp David.

Mon­day’s an­nounce­ment ap­peared to catch many in Chicago by sur­prise.

A spokes­woman for Mr. Emanuel said the Chicago mayor was in­formed about the lo­ca­tion change in a Mon­day phone call from a White House of­fi­cial.

Chris John­son, spokesman for the Chicagoland Cham­ber of Com­merce, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion was “just as sur­prised about the an­nounce­ment as any­body else.”

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