WASHINGTON — It was a rare view of President Barack Obama: strolling along the National Mall with suit jacket slung over his shoulder.

The president on Wednesday walked through a grassy area on the mall known as the Ellipse on his way to the Interior Department to sign a proclamation designating a national monument in New Mexico.

After making some remarks, Obama retraced his path back to the White House, and greeted tourists, saying, "We can shake hands. I won't bite." One lady squealed after shaking hands and taking pictures.

Obama's busy day included meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (shin-SEHK'-ee) and making brief remarks to reporters afterward, and later honoring the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.