President-elect Barack Obama asked the White House if his family could move to Washington earlier than normal, but aides say the White House couldn't give them the official guest house as early as his family wanted.
The Obamas had asked White House officials to move into Blair House about two weeks before the traditional date so their two daughters could start their new school when classes resume Jan. 5. Obama aides say the White House told them that the request cannot be met because the current administration still has plans for the historic government home across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.
An Obama aide said the family was told that there were previously scheduled events at the Blair House and guests could not be displaced. The aide, who was not authorized to speak about Obama family matters, spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Sally McDonough, first lady Laura Bush's press secretary, declined to comment on the transition conversations, but said the Blair House would be available on January 15, the traditional date it becomes available for new presidents and their families.
Obama's two daughters — 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha — are planning to attend Sidwell Friends School. Classes start more than a week before the incoming first family could stay at Blair House.
A second Obama aide said the family remains optimistic the transition from Chicago to Washington would be smooth, regardless of living location.
Sidwell is a private Quaker school with a campus in northwest Washington for grades 5-12 and another in suburban Bethesda, Md., for kindergarten through fourth grade. Malia is in fifth grade and Sasha is in second grade.
Al Gore III, the son of former Vice President Al Gore, attended Sidwell. Vice President-elect Joe Biden's grandchildren also attend the school.