Biden Rounds Out 2023 On Vacation As Admin Snubs End Of The Year Press Conference

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Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden is rounding out 2023 on vacation while the administration snubs a traditional end of the year press conference.

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrived at St. Croix in the Caribbean on Wednesday where they will stay through the New Year. The trip cements the White House’s earlier decision to skip the tradition of an end of the year press conference with reporters.

In the last press briefing of 2023 on Dec. 21, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked why the president doesn’t want to “defend his record” to the American people before heading out on a holiday vacation. Biden traveled to Camp David on Dec. 23 where he remained until Dec. 26.

“I think anytime the president travels and is in front of the American people, he does that,” Jean-Pierre said. “He did that in Wisconsin, where he talked about Bidenomics. He talked about small businesses and how that’s a pillar of Bidenomics and investing in America. So, you heard him do that directly to the American people.”

While in Wisconsin to tout his economic policies, more commonly known as Bidenomics, Biden took a few questions from reporters after exiting Air Force One. The president responded to questions about hostage efforts in the Israel-Hamas war, Venezuela and the Colorado Supreme Court’s December ruling to disqualify Former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballot.

Jean-Pierre added the White House “makes an effort” to do a press conference as often as they can whether it be in D.C. or while traveling.

“He made time yesterday to talk to the press yesterday. He did,” Jean-Pierre said after being asked why the White House didn’t make time for a press conference. “He talked to them. We made time to make sure that he gave a statement about what was happening in Venezuela, the hostage exchange, the swap that you all saw that was very successful. He made time to do that. He stood in front of the press pool, in front of him, and made that statement and took some questions.”

The White House press secretary also used Biden’s December press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to justify the decision to skip the end of the year press conference. Both Biden and Zelenskyy only took two questions each during their press conference.

The press secretary said the White House will make sure it does as many press conferences as possible in 2024.

Biden returned to the White House from Camp David for less than 24 hours Tuesday before heading to St. Croix. The White House did not list if any other family members were going on vacation with Biden and his wife, though their granddaughter Natalie Biden, son of the late Beau Biden, exited Air Force one in St. Croix on Wednesday. (RELATED: KJP Dodges Questions On Hunter Biden’s Unannounced Marine One Trip)

“As they have done previously, the President and the First Lady are staying at the home of their friends Bill and Connie Neville,” the White House said Wednesday about Biden’s New Year’s holiday trip.

Throughout Biden’s presidency, the administration has been criticized for not giving the press more opportunities with the president. As of Oct. 17, Biden had held 13 solo and 17 joint press conferences which is less than any other president at this point in their presidency, according to The Washington Post. The president, as of Oct. 17, had participated in the fewest interviews with the press since former President Ronald Reagan.

Biden and his administration instead have heavily leaned on the use of social media and non-traditional media opportunities, The Washington Post reported. (RELATED: ‘Converts Welcome’: Biden Campaign Reverses Decision To Join Truth Social)

Throughout his presidency, Biden has only done one sit-down interview with a print outlet and spoken to an investigative outlet, The Washington Post reported. The president has done more broadcast interviews with outlets and programs such as PBS, ABC News and CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Biden has done non-traditional interviews, too, the White House noted to The Washington Post, adding the president has spoken to the Weather Channel and Comedy Central. Most recently, Biden sat down with Conan O’Brien to record for the comedians’ podcast.

U.S. President Joe Biden walks out of the White House alongside Hunter Biden and his son Beau Biden towards Marine One on December 23, 2023 in Washington, DC. President Biden will spend the holidays with family at Camp David. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden walks out of the White House alongside Hunter Biden and his son Beau Biden towards Marine One on December 23, 2023 in Washington, DC. President Biden will spend the holidays with family at Camp David. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The strategy, some speculate, is in an effort to limit concerns about the 81-year-old president’s age by putting Biden in more controlled situations, according to The Washington Post.

“For a gaffe-prone president who sounds like he’s mangling or mumbling his words, less may be more,” Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief and now a George Washington University media professor, told the outlet. “Controlling his access is advantageous.”

Heading into the election year, Biden is struggling in the polls. Many hypothetical match-ups between him and Trump show the sitting president trailing. Biden’s approval rating has hit its lowest since taking office, and Americans tend to disagree with how the president is handling the economy and the border crisis.

Despite the low poll numbers, Biden and his team are reportedly not making changes to their strategy and will continue its plan to compare the president’s policies to Republicans, sources close to the president told The New York Times (NYT).

“They’re not freaking out,” Ted Kaufman, a longtime friend of the president, told The NYT. “When you signed up for this thing, you didn’t sign up to be at 80 percent in the polls. These are genuine veterans, and they’re picked because of their ability to be calm in difficult times.”