The big party plans months in the making to celebrate President Barack Obama’s 60th birthday on Martha’s Vineyard have been canceled in favor of a small family and close friends gathering.
Hundreds of former administration officials, celebrities, and Democratic donors were scheduled to help the Obamas celebrate with an outdoor party at their island mansion on Saturday. Rumored guests included Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, and Oprah Winfrey.
“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, said in a statement Wednesday morning. “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
David Axelrod, a former Obama advisor, said that invited guests had been asked if they were vaccinated and were required to submit to testing prior to admittance to the event. “But when this was planned, the situation was quite different. So they responded to the changing circumstances.”
President Biden had previously chosen not to attend, and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain had changed his mind and decided not to attend.