December 27th, 2008
01:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama gives the press the slip

Barack Obama enjoys some shaved ice while vacationing in Hawaii with his family.
Barack Obama enjoys some shaved ice while vacationing in Hawaii with his family.

WAIMANALO, Hawaii (CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama slipped away Friday from the traveling press pool that follows him wherever he goes, taking his two young daughters and other family members and friends to Sea Life Park Hawaii.

The Obamas are vacationing in Hawaii.

CNN was the only news organization to witness the park outing. The president-elect was joined by about nine others, including daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, half-sister Maya Sotero-Ng, her husband and daughter and friend Eric Whitaker.

The group caught a dolphin show before visiting a touch pool and the sea lion exhibit, where it was feeding time.

After the park visit, the Obama group was joined by the press pool - which arrived at the park about an hour after the Obamas but was not allowed in - as they stopped for a sandwich and shaved ice. The reporters refused an offer from Obama to buy them some shaved ice.

The press was allowed to take photographs for more than 20 minutes - much longer than the typical photo opportunity at such an event - before Obama asked the crews and the large crowd that had gathered to "let me eat in peace."

The traveling press pool that accompanies high-ranking officials like the president-elect or the president is made up of about 15 representatives from all types of media - newspaper, magazine, radio, television. Those representatives report back on their subject's movements for the rest of the media.

Their purpose is to provide a public record of the official's activities, a vital service in a functioning democracy.

On Friday, the pool went with Obama to the gym earlier in the day and then returned to their hotels after the transition team said there would be no further events.

"With no further scheduled events for the day, a lid was called until further notice," said Ben Labolt, a transition team spokesman. "The president-elect (later) decided to take the girls to a water park, and we assembled the pool as quickly as possible."

When the travel pool was notified that the Obamas were heading to the park, they notified other news agencies - including CNN. The pool had to return to the Obamas' vacation home to be taken to the park by the transition team; CNN's crew, not a part of the pool on Friday, was closer to the park.

When visitors of the park recognized the president-elect, they began snapping more photos and videos of Obama's group than of the marine animals. A number of Secret Service agents kept people at a safe distance, asking onlookers to keep walking after they stood looking at the group a while.

The Obamas are trying to establish a level of privacy for Sasha and Malia, as previous presidents have done with their own children. But it's been more than 30 years since a presidential child has been under the age of 10, and the fine line between keeping the public eye on the president-elect while keeping the children's privacy intact is not always clear.

Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter, was 9 years old when her father took office. The children of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were grown when they took office, and Chelsea Clinton was 12 when President Bill Clinton took office. President George W. Bush's twins Jenna and Barbara were 20 when their father became president.

Four days ago, paparazzi staked out the Obamas' vacation rental home on the public Kailua Beach and snapped photographs of the family. The photos, particularly one of a shirtless Obama in swim trunks, caused a media firestorm.

The transition team dismissed the photo of the president-elect, but they were not pleased with the photos of the children.

CNN photojournalist Khalil Abdallah contributed to this report.

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. chimpout

    he's trying to spread his wealth, just like we're gonna be doing in a month from now.

    December 27, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. Mobius

    Who knew Bilderberg was meeting in Hawaii?

    December 27, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. pj in Maine

    Let him have his vacation already! I am so relieved he and his family are taking a break.

    He is from Hawaii, and the Aloha spirit is generous. I would have taken the shave ice. I wish I had some now! Make mine coconut/mango!

    December 27, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Karen

    Obama is so kewl. You'd think the Papparazzi would have learned a lesson when they contributed to the death of Lady Di. Oh, well. I'm glad to see a photo of our President-elect in a white T-shirt. He really is one of us.

    December 27, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Peachy Keen

    Earth shattering news!

    December 27, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. ALL CAPS

    Obama is cool. Very nice, thoughtful guy–even when he's being hounded by the media on his vacation. Very gracious person.

    December 27, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. James

    probably not commenting on here anymore, wayyyy too many losers on here that literally have no idea what they are talking about. Not to mention the sudden migration of Fox news winners coming over to CNN to talk about birth certificates, all i can say to that is WOWWWW get a grip already. Stop being so lazy and depending on the news to do all your homework, pathetic people, do it yourself, teach yourself, apathetic knuckleheads. Hope Obama gives these republicans a hard time, im sick and tired of putting problems on the back burner so these idiots can continue destroying this country. Darth keeping in mind these people didnt even admit to themselves the state of the economy till it burst in their face, its not surprising how they act. I guess if i was that hopeless id be a little upset too. Anyway im done with this crap, the more i comment on here the more i realize these blogs are for people that dont get it, and certainly dont want to try to get it, not when their still searching for birth certificates. Too bad, i guess the news has to wait on people hand and foot now.

    December 27, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Robert

    Why is the news media so obessed with tracking and following Obama....it would be nice to give his entire family time along before he starts his big job ahead.

    In the same sense, the News agencies is an hype up, upscale paparazzi.

    December 27, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Linda32

    Travis – You do know that the Gov of Hawaii is a Republican, right? And that she supported McCain, right?

    Until President- elect is sworn in, his every waking moment does not need to be recorded yet.

    December 27, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. Cathy in Vermont

    Hey Repubs, I have a half brother that I found out about when I was 31. I have no feeling for the man as I did not know him. He died when I was 33 and other than sadness for my father and that one so young died, I felt nothing. His Kenyan relatives are strangers, just as my brother was and I see no reason that Obama has to support them. BTW I also do not support my dead beat WHOLE sister.

    December 27, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. PA Dem

    Reggie 92, you say a "good father" would have been in church Christmas morning, etc, etc.... I am proud of my faith, but I was not in church on Christmas. Being in a place does not make one a Christian or anything else....it makes you present. Thanking God should be a part of the daily lives of the faithful. I attend church once a week, but praise Him each and every day. Don't dump your judgment on us. Get over yourself.

    And, stop using Reggie White's name and number. Get your own identity.

    December 27, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. yellow dog democrat

    to: REGGIE92 December 27th, 2008 10:28 am ET

    Throwing stones are you?? go back to your church and this time stay awake and listen to whats being said (of course unless its one of those political biased churches which is not really a church)

    Judge not lest you be judged.....

    December 27, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Kenneth M. of Flushing Queens

    You have to be slick to give the media the slip. He must have used the Muslim MInd Melt on them. Where was this guy born anyway?

    December 27, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. indycolts

    to people posting negative things about mr.obama,The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    December 27, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Irritated in Fl

    Obama and his crooks slipped thru the medias fingers during the campaign and now they are slowly being exposed. They may have missed out on the shaved ice but the skeletons are slowly tumbling out of the closet. Rahm and Blogavich are just the beginning. The radicals that voted for these crooks accuse everyone of being a republican (I'm democrat) and of trying to sabatoge Obama. Well, the truth is Obama has always been a crook and they just refused to see it. Now it will come glaring and they will be sickened. Oh, BTW. Why haven't y'all told the public that Obamas grandmother really died in October and he used it as a means for a sympathy vote by saying she died Nov 2? How about doing some real reporting and telling the world the facts?

    December 27, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Texas Teacher

    Oh, come now, ye old repubs! *LOL* Wipe that foam from thy lips!

    Obama has a right to a private life. He will be in the lime light from now on. And you had simply better get used to it!

    Shaved Ice indeed, how dare he offer cheap shaved ice to the elite of our paparazzi news media! Why at the very least he should have offered them... hand dipped ice cream! *LOL*

    Can you people find nothing else to complain about? :)

    December 27, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Joe

    I'm a Republican and I wish you'd give the guy a break! For crying out loud – A) He's not the President yet. B) He's on vacation and not going to entertain us with great words of wisdom, and C) Eight years from now he'll be a gray haired chain smoking burn out like every other president we rag out – so for everyone's sake could you let the guy enjoy a vacation to enjoy the family he will NOT see over the next eight years?

    December 27, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Joe Regis

    There is no need to follow the PE every where he goes, specially when he is vacationing with friends and families. The PE deserves some quality time alone to be ready to face the task of fixing America and the rest of the world.

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Israeli air strike in Palestine about 200 dead. These are worthy pieces of news report.

    December 27, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Harvey in Tampa

    The folks who tell the media to leave Obama & his family alone are the exactly the same folks who gobble this TMZ-style stuff up. You, as readers & viewers, should unplug yourselves from the 24-hour news cycle. Once you do that, your beloved CNN will stop feeding it to you.

    December 27, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. Who Cares?

    Why is this news??

    December 27, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Ant

    Obama gives the press the slip, we wait for Barry Hussain Obama to make many slips as he ducks, dives, runs due to lack of experience etc, the man has NO experience..........

    December 27, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Carramea in Chicago

    I agree this is not worthy of a news story. He wanted to spend some time with his girls and try go give them a bit of privacy big deal. But I agree Americans are obsessed with celebrity. That is the ony way I could figure out how any one in the their right man could want Sarah Palin for VP. She has celebrity that "it" factor.

    December 27, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Carramea in Chicago

    Irritated in Florida. I dont consider a shaved ice or a beer a gfit. Perhaps hes just a nice guy ? Maybe thats just his style. ? Reporters are biased enough , I dont think a shaved ice is going to make them change their stories

    December 27, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. NJames

    It's too bad the Obama's can't enjoy more privacy with their children. I think "a vital service in a functioning democracy" and the well being of the Obama children would be best served by a media sentence: "PE Obama took his children to a water park." End of story.

    It's great that there's media interest but that interest should have some balance, common sense and a regard for all involved – especially the children who deserve and should be entitled to some quality time with their Dad.

    December 27, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Ann

    So?

    December 27, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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