Obama Hoping For Low-Profile Hawaiian Vacation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- If the rest of the year goes according to the White House's plans, don't expect to see much of President Barack Obama. He's on a Hawaiian vacation.

Of course, things don't always go according to plan when it comes to Obama's time off, with delayed departures and breaking news often dashing the president's hopes for low-key rest and relaxation.

Obama's trip to Hawaii is already no exception. His Wednesday evening departure was five days later than originally planned because the president decided to stay in Washington while Congress rushed to finish several pieces of high-profile legislation before year's end.

The White House gave just a few hours' notice of Obama's departure, which came after an equally hastily announced news conference. Obama was expected to arrive on Oahu, the island where he was born and mostly raised, near midnight Wednesday local time. He'll join his wife, Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, and dog Bo, who have been vacationing at the family's rented oceanfront home on Kailua Bay since Saturday.

Obama began his vacation on a high note, having secured victories on two top priorities -- repealing the military's ban on gays serving openly and ratifying a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. He also struck a compromise with Republicans to extend tax cuts for all income earners, a deal that angered some liberal Democrats, but won Obama rare support from the GOP.

At a Washington news conference Wednesday, Obama said the accomplishments of a postelection session of Congress demonstrate "we are not doomed to endless gridlock." He described the six-week lame duck session as "a season of progress for the American people."

The waning weeks of 2010 provided the president a much-needed boost following a volatile year and a self-proclaimed "shellacking" in the November midterm elections. Awaiting Obama come January is an economy still struggling to achieve steady growth, a Congress more heavily laden with Republicans and a host of GOP challengers poised to run for his job in 2012.

With that in mind, the White House says the president is looking forward to spending a few days outside the glare of the Washington spotlight.

"He is as much as anything anxious to spend time where he grew up with his family and to see his sister," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family also live on Oahu. The president plans to visit with several childhood friends while on the island as well, Gibbs said.

Christmas in Hawaii has become a family tradition for the Obamas, who are spending their third straight year in Kailua. Obama also was forced to delay his departure last December due to action on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers worked until Christmas Eve to pass his signature health care overhaul legislation.

At the time, Obama spokesman Bill Burton told reporters traveling to Hawaii with Obama that the president's Christmas wish for the press corps was to "relax and to not anticipate any public announcements or news-making events."

It wasn't meant to be. On Christmas Day, a 23-year-old Nigerian man allegedly attempted to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit. The incident consumed Obama's vacation, with the president receiving thrice-daily updates from the White House Situation Room and national security staffers briefing reporters, often at a moment's notice.

Administration officials will be prepared for any similar surprises this year. A small team of White House advisers, including Burton, deputy chief of staff Jim Messina and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, are traveling with the president, who will receive daily briefings.

But unless outside events interfere, there will be little else on the president's schedule. As in past years, the president and first lady are likely to start their day with a morning workout at a gym at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Obama has said he loves a secluded beach at the base and intends to "hit a couple of golf courses" while on the island.

Still, locals are likely to catch a few glimpses of the president during outings around town. Obama and his daughters have been regular visitors to Island Snow, a beachwear store famous for its shave ice -- a version of what mainlanders know as snow cones.

If there's anything threatening to intrude on Obama's vacation plans, it could be Mother Nature. Oahu has been pounded with rain throughout the week, and more showers are forecast for the days ahead.


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  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Dec 30, 2010 at 05:17 PM
    As another year comes to a close, let's take a moment to reflect on the last 365 days. The passage of Obamacare all behind closed doors with no transparancy. Multiple terror attempts on U.S. soil. Obama denies they were terror attempts. Poor handling of the BP oil spill. Obama refused any help instead he went on vacation. Change of command in Afghanistan. Chief of staff said Obama has no real plan to end any wars and he won't listen to the Generals. Soaring unemployment 9-10% for black youth over 17%. Little business job growth. Very little Stock Price increases effects retirement plans. Spanish vacations fo all of Michelle Obama and friends on tax payers money. The Obama world tour to trash America. Obama says their is no inflation , but the price of everything is going up. I am running out of posting word space. Their is so much more change we got this year from Obama. Please feel free to add more. Obama did one thing he made peace between a Cop and a Teacher over a few beers.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Dec 30, 2010 at 03:38 PM
    Anonymous on Dec 30, 2010 at 03:55 PM, thats right, the number one station in truth and facts! Isn't it great to be informed? I guess you go to mediamaters, moveon.org and huffington post...wow, isn't that really special. Are you referring to Rosie O'donnell your liberal queen? Gosh, you guys really got hammered in Congress...you are not sore about that are you? Missinformed News? We all know some cannot handle the truth and deny it...OK, Prices at the gas pumps will go up to 5 dollars a gallon under Oblamabush...does that make you feel better...come on...this is what you voted for...yeah baby...I am sure glad Oblamabush extended the Bush tax cuts so I can afford gas....glad I work for a weathly capitolist that pays me well...you feeling this or is the columbian pot and koolaid taking your brain?
  • by Anonymous on Dec 30, 2010 at 12:55 PM
    Obama Snake Oil@9:34, let me guess, you heard that on Fox (misinformed) News? You must be an Orly Taitz fan also. Wow, Glenn Beck and Orly Taitz, Palin, and O'Donnell you are in good sane company.
  • by Dave Location: Greenville on Dec 30, 2010 at 06:21 AM
    WTH?!?!? Another vacation? How many do him and his family need? Our economy still isn't completely out of the dumper and oh let's run off at the taxpayers' expense again. The Obamas have taken more vacations than any other presidential family in less time.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Dec 29, 2010 at 06:34 AM
    anon Location: nc on Dec 28, 2010 at 09:51 AM, really? We heard it was Kenya.......
  • by Anonymous on Dec 28, 2010 at 05:55 PM
    VACATION 1002689 ha ha!!!!! I wonder how many trips he took to Hawaii when he was a...oh what was he again before he was President???
  • by I Fought the Law to Lavon on Dec 28, 2010 at 08:02 AM
    Usually I ignore your comments because they're pretty useless thought patterns. However on your rant about your cousin.......nobody made him join the military. And Bush didn't give him a personal send-off either.
  • by anon Location: nc on Dec 28, 2010 at 06:51 AM
    I hope the Obama family enjoys there vacation. People typically go home for Christmas. His home is in Hawaii. Get a life.
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Dec 27, 2010 at 07:44 AM
    snake killer on Dec 24, 2010 at 09:00 PM, you actually believe Bush has a war policy? Really? You never heard of congress or the senate? You progressives are so desperate after your loss in Nov that you post such nonsense....you might just as well be data man or lavon...Please learn about government anad how it works....you killin us here. Anonymous on Dec 25, 2010 at 06:31 AM and we bet you drink koolaid...it really shows. I guess most go to the number one news station as number 7 won't work for them...Gosh, you gotta hate that Fox broadcasts the facts and you get the "feel good news". By the way, the roads are almost clear to the grocery stores...suggest you get some more koolaid from MSNBC...
  • by John Location: Lenoir on Dec 27, 2010 at 06:13 AM
    Although I am no fan of his policies, or his annual trips to Hawaii. I don't count the days that the President (any President) is off, because I don't really think that they are ever really off, they are in my estimation on the clock every day. Camp David is supposed to be the President's retreat (near DC). The international travel and annual trips to Hawaii on the taxpayer that President Obama is doing seems excessive to me. I do find myself wondering if he took annual Hawaiian Christmas Vacations BEFORE he was President?
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