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Golf interrupted: Obama puts foursome on hold temporarily for updates on East Coast earthquake
OAK BLUFFS, Mass. (AP) ' President Barack Obama was just starting a round of golf when the East Coast earthquake rattled the ground around him.
He put the foursome on hold and, within the hour, was on the telephone and getting updates on the temblor's aftermath from top aides, the White House said. Told there had been no major damage reported, Obama resumed one of his favorite pastimes and stayed at the public Farm Neck Golf Club for several more hours.
The White House did not specifically say whether Obama felt the quake, but reporters who traveled with him to the course said they did feel it.
The quake Tuesday shook much of Washington and sent people streaming from the White House, Pentagon and Capitol.
CNN broadcast video of Obama on the course and talking on a cellphone. The White House declined to say exactly where he was just before 3 p.m. EDT when he conferred from the course with top aides, including his homeland security secretary, national security adviser and disaster response chief.
The White House said he asked for regular earthquake reports. He also was updated on Hurricane Irene.
Obama's golf game, with a group that included pals Eric Whitaker and Vernon Jordan, came after he took advantage of idyllic summer weather to join his family on biking and beach outings earlier Tuesday. It was his third golf outing of a 10-day vacation that began last Thursday.
Aides said Obama was briefed on national security and the economy before setting out for the bike trail at Manuel F. Correllus State Forest with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha. The first family went biking at the 5,100-acre preserve during their previous two summer getaways on this posh island off the Massachusetts coast. After biking, they headed to a private stretch of beach on the island's south shore for the second time in three days.
Obama also discussed Libya with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Both agreed to support a peaceful transition to democracy and called for Moammar Gadhafi to relinquish power, the White House said. While out biking, Obama ignored a reporter's shouted question about Gadhafi's whereabouts.
The president is scheduled to return to the White House on Saturday.
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Erica Werner contributed to this report.