The change to Marine One, the president’s helicopter, comes after two different briefing room exchanges during which reporters suggested the president was flouting COVID-19 guidelines set by the federal government and should scale back travel to his longtime home.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden depart Marine One, the presidential helicopter, at the Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Delaware, on March 12
President Biden assists his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, as they disembark Marine One amid military and security personnel after arriving at the Delaware Air National Guard Base on March 12. The couple traveled to their family home in Wilmington this weekend
President Joe Biden waves after exiting Marine One in Delaware with the first lady on Friday
Psaki countered that travel aboard Air Force One does not violate guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden has spent three of the eight weekends since he took office at his longtime home outside Wilmington, including this weekend. Biden also spent a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
Biden’s home near Wilmington, the largest city in Delaware, is where he lived as a senator before being elected vice president in 2008 and where he returned after his time in that office ended.
Biden attends a church in Wilmington that has a cemetery where his first wife, Neilia, and their infant daughter, Naomi, were buried after they were killed in a 1972 car accident. Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46, is also buried at the church.
‘The president lives in Wilmington. It’s his home. That’s where he’s lived for many, many years,’ Psaki said recently. ‘And as you know, as any president of the United States does, he takes a private airplane called Air Force One to travel there.’
‘That is, of course, a unique — unique from most Americans, but I think most Americans would also see that as a unique circumstance,’ Psaki said.
While many factors affect the method of presidential travel, including weather, security and possible public disruption, Marine One has the benefit of saving taxpayer money compared to the cost of operating Air Force One.
President Joe Biden waves from the yard of his family church in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 12
Biden and some of his grandchildren visit the church’s cemetery, where his first wife and infant daughter were buried after they died in a 1972 car accident, on March 12. With Biden are grandson Hunter, at left in hat, granddaughter Natalie, center, and an unidentified family friend.
Biden regularly attends services at the church in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has lived for most of his 78 years
Biden walks with grandson Hunter and granddaughter Natalie, left, with his arm around an unidentified family friend at their church in Wilmington on Friday
Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46, is also buried at the Wilmington church
In addition to the Air Force flight crew on the jet, presidential travel parties include Secret Service agents, White House staff and journalists. Lawmakers, Cabinet secretaries or other guests may also fly with the president depending on the circumstances and destination.
Biden also has traveled with some of his six grandchildren on trips during his vice presidency and last year’s presidential campaign.
Federal agencies spent an estimated $13.6 million on four trips by then-President Donald Trump to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, in February and March of 2017, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2019.
Biden salutes military personnel as he exits Air Force One, the presidential jet, in February
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a news briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday
The cost included $10.6 million to operate government aircraft and boats and $3 million for transportation, lodging, meals and other expenses for government support personnel, the report said.
Trump took the more familiar version of Air Force One, a modified 747, on the two-hour-plus flight to the commercial airport in West Palm Beach.
Biden has flown on a smaller version of the plane for the flight of about 30 minutes to the Delaware Air National Guard Base.
Biden’s home is also a weekend refuge where he watched the Super Bowl in February and meets with advisers and enjoys Sunday dinner with family.
‘We try to keep the Sunday night dinners,’ Jill Biden told television talk-show host Kelly Clarkson. ‘I mean, it’s been a little busy lately. We still do it, and the kids look forward to it.’
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump depart Air Force One on Nov. 12, 2019, at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland following a trip to New York City
President Trump returns a salute as he steps from Marine One to board Air Force One as he departs Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 18, 2017
Biden owns a second home in the beach community of Rehoboth, Delaware, but he has yet to visit the address since becoming president.
Biden spent the majority of his 78 years in Wilmington after his parents relocated there from Scranton, Pennsylvania, when he was a boy.
He represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years and was a regular passenger on the Amtrak train service between his hometown and Washington, D.C.
As he left Delaware in January to take up residence in the White House, Biden, who is of Irish descent, alluded to an Irish poet believed to have said Dublin will be written on his heart when he dies.
Biden said, ‘When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart.’