Story at a glance

  • Former President Obama’s massive birthday party plans have been drastically reduced amid concerns the gathering could serve as a superspreader event.
  • “Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” Hannah Hankins, a spokeswoman for the former president, told The New York Times.
  • Obama’s initial plans led to critiques of the merits of hosting a large gathering as government agencies warn of the growing COVID-19 threats.

Former President Obama’s massive birthday party plans have been drastically reduced amid concerns the gathering could serve as a superspreader event as the delta coronavirus variant surges across the U.S. 

Hundreds of people were expected to attend Obama’s 60th birthday bash at the 44th president’s Martha's Vineyard home scheduled for Saturday, and some prospective attendees were already en route to the party, The New York Times reported. Others were in the process of mandatory coronavirus testing before the Obamas decided to limit attendance to family and friends. 

“Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” Hannah Hankins, a spokeswoman for the former president, told The New York Times. “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”


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A New York Post report listed George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey among expected celebrity guests.

Obama’s initial plans led to critiques of the merits of hosting a large gathering as government agencies warn of the growing COVID-19 threats and re-introduce mask recommendations and mandates. 

Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference, called Obama’s plans hypocritical as they seemingly fell out of line with coronavirus policies. 

“Democrats are imposing unscientific mask mandates while contemplating more lockdowns. Meanwhile, President Obama is hosting over 500 elites at his Martha's Vineyard mansion. If you or I did that it would be called a super-spreader event by the Democrats,” Stefanik said, according to The New York Post. 

Both President Biden and his chief-of-staff Ronald Klain opted out of the event. 

“While President Biden is unable to attend this weekend, he looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over 60 club,” a White House official previously told The Hill.


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But advisors told the Times the former president’s belated yet abrupt cancellation reflected an evolving situation that began when there was more optimism around the trajectory of the pandemic. 

“They’ve been concerned about the virus from the beginning, asking invited guests if they had been vaccinated, requesting that they get a test proximate to the event,” said David Axelrod, a former top Obama adviser. “But when this was planned, the situation was quite different. So they responded to the changing circumstances.”


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Published on Aug 04, 2021