Less than 48 hours after leaving, Obamas are back at the WH

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 11, 2013 

Less than 48 hours after leaving for Nelson Mandela's memorial service in South Africa, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama returned to the White House early Wednesday morning, holding hands as they strolled across the South Lawn from Marine One.

There's nothing on the president's schedule for the day; and the daily press briefing will be done by deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, rather than Jay Carney, who traveled with the Obamas to Johannesburg.

The White House has released a photo gallery of the trip by official photographer Pete Souza, whose access included a shot aboard Air Force One of former president George W. Bush sharing photographs of his paintings with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others aboard the plane. The shots come as news organizations have filed a formal complaint with the White House, charging it imposes unprecedented limitations on photojournalists covering President Barack Obama,

Obama emerged from Marine One at 6:01 AM with the first lady right behind him and didn't respond to or acknowledge a question shouted to him about last night's budget deal.

Obama had issued a statement Tuesday night calling the bipartisan budget agreement "a good first step.

"This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like – and I know many Republicans feel the same way," he said in the statement. "That’s the nature of compromise. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done."

Air Force One returned to Andrews Air Force Base without the former presisdent aboard. The White House pool says Bush disembarked during a refueling stop in Senegal to give a speech, according to WH.

Former first lady Laura Bush flew all the way to Andrews, disembarking a few minutes after the Obamas.

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