White House

White House fears Camp David is their last resort for G-7 after Florida reversal

President Donald Trump may have to settle on Camp David as the site for the next G-7 summit of world leaders, after canceling a decision to hold it at his golf resort in Doral, because other sites initially considered may be fully booked, White House officials said.

Trump threw out Camp David as a possibility on Saturday evening when he announced on Twitter that the international gathering would no longer be held at his Florida property.

His acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, had called it a “miserable” location at a press briefing Thursday when he announced the decision to hold the summit in Florida.

White House sources told McClatchy that the secluded presidential retreat near Thurmont, Maryland, could end up as the only viable location for the summit in 2020.

A dozen other destinations, including North Carolina and California, that were originally under consideration may no longer be available.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham acknowledged Monday that Camp David may be selected, even though it wasn’t the first choice.

“That’s just always an option,” she said. “It wasn’t ideal before, but it has been used before.”

She said the White House might have to change the dates for the summit from June 10-12 announced last week. “Maybe there’s different dates that would be available,” she said.

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, who supported Trump’s decision to host the summit at his golf resort, said he wants to see the G-7 Summit held elsewhere in Florida if Doral is off the table.

“It should be, there’s lots of good places,” Scott said. “I was down in Orlando today giving a speech at Disney World, that’s a good place. There’s all sorts of good places, there’s good places in Naples.”

Scott said he’s had conversations about next year’s summit with White House officials, but didn’t say specifically if he’s talked about the summit since Trump reversed course on Doral.

Mulvaney said at his briefing that there were “plenty of other good places in this country to hold a large event” but they wanted it in early June which created some limitations.

Former President Barack Obama turned to Camp David in 2012 when he abruptly moved the G-7 from his hometown of Chicago two months before the event was scheduled to take place.

The president said on Monday at a Cabinet meeting that any alternative to Doral will not make for as grand a summit.

“We’ll look at other locations. I don’t think it will be as exciting, and I don’t think it will be as good. It will cost the country a fortune,” he said.

Addressing claims that the gathering would have profited his family, Trump said, “I was willing to do it for free, but people didn’t like that. They thought I may get some promotional value. I need promotional value so badly right?”

Mulvaney said Sunday on Fox News that it was his belief that changing the venue was the best course of action.

“We’ll have to find someplace else. And my guess is we’ll find someplace else that the media won’t like either for another reason,” he stated.

The top White House official said Trump was “honestly surprised at the level of pushback” and genuinely believes Doral was the best location for the prestigious conference.

“At the end of the day, you know, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world, and he wanted to put the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could,” Mulvaney said.

Additional reporting by Alex Daugherty.

Francesca Chambers has covered the White House for more than five years across two presidencies. In 2016, she was embedded with the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. She is a Kansas City native.
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