President Barack Obama’s decision to host the G-8 leaders at Camp David this weekend marks a milestone for the presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains. It will be the biggest gathering of heads of state there in history.
So who sleeps where?
And how did the White House decide?
Determining which leader gets which cabin without sending insulting signals is no small feat. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was asked about it at a news briefing today.
“The allocation system, of course, is classified,” he deadpanned.
White House deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco and George Mulligan of the White House Military Office were involved in making the delicate determinations, Donilon said. The team made sure there was a cabin for each head of state with room for at least one key staffer, he added.
“It’s adequate,” he joked.
Obama may have decided to hold the summit at Camp David to re-familiarize himself with the place.
The trip marks only the 23rd time he’s gone to the rustic presidential retreat, compared with 81 visits by former President George W. Bush during the same point in his presidency, according to CBS News reporter Mark Knoller, who tracks presidential statistics. That makes 54 days at Camp David for Obama, compared with 256 days for Bush.
Most of Obama’s trips to the getaway in the cooler mountains of Maryland have been short weekends with his family during Washington’s hot summers. He hasn’t been there since October 8, and he has never hosted foreign dignitaries there — until now.
Few people have seen the camp — hidden down an off-limits forest road of the national park there — best known for the 1978 summit that President Jimmy Carter held with Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin which led to the Camp David Accords.
The camp was established by President Franklin Roosevelt, who designed the main building to look like his vacation home in Warm Springs, Georgia. It was named Shangri-La. Eisenhower renamed it after his grandson David.
Kate Andersen Brower contributed to this post.