Work and Play: President Obama continues his stay at Sunnylands

President departed for brief visit with designer Michael Smith

President Obama exits Air Force One

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - It was not all play for President Obama on Saturday as his stay continues at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage.  After a round of golf with friends he signed separate measures lifting the federal debt limit and restoring full cost of living benefits for military retirees.

The White House Press Office announced at about 9:15 a.m. that the President had no plans to leave the sprawling estate in Rancho Mirage, but after playing a round of golf on the nine-hole links with friends Bobby Titcomb, Greg Orme and Michael Ramos, and signing the measures later in the day, we got late word that the President ventured out of Sunnylands just before 6:30 p.m. and traveled to designer Michael Smith's desert home.  The Travel pool reporter says "our research suggests this is the Michael Smith who did the interior design for the private living quarters at the White House. He also did the interior design at Sunnylands Center, (not the residence)".  The President returned to Sunnylands at 7:40 p.m.

While here at Sunnylands the President was also expected to binge watch the HBO dramas ``True Detective'' and ``Game of Thrones''while at the estate in Rancho Mirage, according to The New York Times.  President Obama approached HBO's chief executive Richard Plepler at Tuesday's state dinner for French President Francois Hollande, asking him ``Where is my `True Detective' and `Game of Thrones'?'' The New York Times reported.  The President waved over an aide to make certain Plepler knew where to send the DVDs to ensure they would make it through White House security to reach the President, according to The Times.

Air Force One arrived at Palm Springs at 6:58 p.m. Friday from Fresno, where the President had outlined his plan for federal assistance to drought-stricken California farmers, visited a farm and participated in a discussion with farmers and others affected by the statewide drought.

At Palm Springs, The President was greeted by Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Rick Hutcheson, Rep.Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage Mayor Richard Kite and Jeff L.Grubbe, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

The presidential motorcade arrived at Sunnylands at 7:34 p.m. and King Abdullah II of Jordan arrived 18 minutes later. The President greeted Abdullah, telling him ``Good to see you. Family doing well?''  The President spoke for a few minutes, touching on Jordan's challenges caused by Syrian's civil war. President Obama praised Abdullah for moving forward with reforms that meet the International Monetary Fund program.

Abdullah praised the President for ``the outstanding support that you've shown Jordan.''  Following that, The President and King Abdullah met over dinner for over two hours, discussing ``virtually every regional issue you could envision,'' including developments in Egypt, Iraq and Iran, according to a senior administration official, who described the dinner as ``very constructive and cordial.''

The President said the U.S. will seek to provide Jordan a $1 billion loan guarantee and extend its memorandum of understanding with Jordan for five years ``that allows that country to pursue the kind of development that will not only help the people of Jordan, but help the region as a whole,'' .  The loan guarantee and extension of the memorandum of understanding both require congressional approval.

The current five-year memorandum expires in September and has been worth $660 million a year, $360 million in economic support funds and $300 in military financing, a senior administration official said.

Outside Sunnylands, a small group of protesters gathered near a barricade at Bob Hope and Gerald Ford drives Friday afternoon to call for the passage of immigration legislation and a halt to deportations.   Members of Comite Latino held a large U.S. flag and waved signs. One person wore a large Obama head.    ``The Border Patrol in the valley are persecuting immigrants in the Coachella Valley and people are afraid, and we came to speak for them,'' said Mario Lazcano, a Coachella resident and member of Comite Latino.

The group's largest sign read ``Obama, please don't separate me from my parents.''  Several motorists in passing cars honked in support.  Lazcano said the group is appealing to Obama to stop deportations ``because they are causing a lot of pain for all people.''  

Photos: President Obama's trip to Sunnylands in February

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