President Donald Trump may have the keys to Air Force One, but inside the United States at least, he’s not heading far from home.
Five months into his term, Trump has largely remained within two hours of Washington during his jaunts out into the country. At equivalent stages in their presidencies, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had traveled to a broader sweep of the country, according to a CNN analysis of their schedules.
By the end of June in 2001 and 2009, both previous presidents had flown across the country to California, the nation’s most populous state. Both had touched down in all four timezones that span the continuous United States. And both stayed overnight in hotels and private homes on multi-day swings through far-flung corners of the country.
Trump, who has traveled to sixteen states as president, has ventured west of the Mississippi River only once while in office, during a campaign rally stop in Iowa earlier this month. He hasn’t visited California — perhaps not a surprise, given the state went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in last year’s election (Trump does, however, own a home in Beverly Hills).
Inside the US, he’s only made stops in the Eastern and Central time zones, and hasn’t spent the night anywhere in the country aside from the presidential beds at the White House, Mar-a-Lago, his Bedminster golf club, and Camp David.
Trump did embark upon an ambitious maiden foreign voyage, traveling to five countries in eight days in May. The trip came later in his term than past presidents’ first trips abroad, and officials conceded ahead of time that Trump expressed displeasure at the daunting itinerary.
Trump is known as a homebody, regularly traveling back to his apartment in New York late at night during last year’s campaign. But as president, his travel habits are an anomaly. Trump’s predecessors regularly used domestic travel — to high school gyms, factory floors, national parks, and military installations — to underscore a policy objective or pressure a home state lawmaker to back a certain piece of legislation.
Trump has made a point of meeting with so-called “Obamacare victims” when he has made day trips to states within two hours’ fight of Washington. But he hasn’t delivered a major speech on the GOP-sponsored health care bill in any of the on-the-fence senators’ home states. Of the 10 Republican senators who have said they’ll oppose the current version of the Senate health care bill, Trump has visited only three of their states.
When he travels on presidential business, Trump has opted instead for smaller venues that keep him at a distance from members of the public. He has toured factories and schools, and spoken to select constituencies, but has largely avoided delivering large public addresses — except when they are sponsored by his reelection campaign.
Past presidents have used crowds outside of Washington to help apply political pressure on a specific issue or piece of legislation, utilizing what is usually a swell of support early in their term.
“I don’t want to accept ‘no’ for an answer. We need to get this down, but I’m going to need your help. That’s why I want your thoughts,” Obama said at a town hall in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as he was attempting to sell his health care reform plan in 2009.
When Bush was pressing for passage of a budget plan months into his tenure, he navigated Air Force One west.
“It is important to make sure you get outside the DC scene and listen to the people,” Bush said during a speech in Fargo, North Dakota, about two months after taking office in 2001. “I’ll tell you, I love traveling our country. I’m so proud to be landing in Air Force One and getting off the airplane and driving into this hall and seeing people lining the streets, waving at the office of the President. It makes me proud to be your President.”