When President Barack Obama’s motorcade swept into the luxurious Kingsmill Resort to prepare for the second debate with Republican Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign, the chief executive’s temporary residence was within a mile of the home of John Hinckley, Jr., who shot former President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
A federal court permitted Hinckley to stay at his mother’s home on a cul-du-sac called Yeardley’s Grant in the upscale Kingsmill Resort beginning in 2006. The gated community is just outside Williamsburg, Virginia and is dotted with million-dollar homes, many with views of the nearby scenic James River.
The Secret Service did not respond when asked by The Daily Caller News Foundation if Hinckley was at Kingsmill during Obama’s visit.
The Hinckley home, which faces a man-made lake called Kingsmill Pond, is approximately one mile from Pettus Plantation Manor, a 4,800-square foot “grand mansion” where Obama stayed and met with aides to prepare for the debate with Romney.
The resort portion of Kingsmill was not cordoned off from the residential section during the presidential visit even though it was reachable in about two minutes from the Hinckley home.
The house sits next to the 13th hole of the popular River Course Golf Course, one of three PGA-level championship layouts that crisscross the 2,900 acres of upscale homes.
Obama landed in Williamsburg, Virginia aboard Air Force One on Saturday, Oct. 14 and stayed at the resort for three nights, according to press reports.
Joining Obama at the mansion were then-Sen. John Kerry, who played Romney, and the president’s top aides, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Anita Dunn.
News reports at the time said Obama remained at the resort during the entire visit except for a surprise appearance at the Organizing for America campaign field office in downtown Williamsburg where he delivered pizza to supporters.
The resort was open to the public throughout Obama’s visit. A classic car show — “Ferraris on the James” — was held on the property as Obama prepared for the debate. Secret Service agents assigned to protect Obama reportedly broke away from their detail to gawk at the Ferraris.
About a “half-dozen agents” were seen “strolling through the show, ogling the pricey roadsters parked on a bluff above the shimmering James River on a brilliant afternoon,” according to a local reporter with the Virginia Pilot.
The Secret Service has come under fire for allowing serious lapses in security both at the White House and while the chief executive was on travel.
About two weeks before Obama’s Kingsmill stay, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned. Her agency committed multiple embarrassing gaffs during Pierson’s tenure.
But the last straw apparently was when a man scaled the White House fence, strolled through the unlocked White House front door and raced into the East Room. He was eventually apprehended by an off-duty Secret Service agent.
The mansion where Obama stayed was originally the home of Col. Thomas Pettus, a prominent land owner who occupied the main house between 1640 to 1690. He was a plantation owner and reportedly used Indian and African slaves to run a profitable tobacco planting business, according to the Jamestown Rediscovery Project.