December 27th, 2008
01:08 PM ET
6 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. Akshay

    I support the press' access to public officials, but agree with an earlier comment... "Obama takes kids to water park" would have been good enough. Trying any further to document a 9 year old enjoying marine life with her father is not "a vital service to a functioning democracy"... that's just doublespeak. Cover Mr. Obama all you want... let's try and leave his family alone. We the public bear some of that responsibility, with our overenthusiastic curiosity about his family, which only drives the media frenzy to extremes.

    December 27, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    Okay, I just read the Time article on the front page of CNN & then this one. Amazing!! The house the Obamas are renting has evidently increased in value almost $2 million dollars in just the last couple of days if you believe the Time article. Then they say the recent earthquake had Honolulu without power for 2 full days. First of all the earthquake was in 2005 and it was on the "Big Island" not O'ahu. The power was out on O'ahu (where Honolulu is for you non-islanders) back then because of rain storms, not because of the earthquake.
    This just shows you how much inaccurate information the media puts out.
    And by the way, in Hawai`i it's just "shave ice", not "shaved ice".
    And media people– the correct spelling is Hawai`i, not Hawaii. You need to put an okina in front of the second i.

    December 27, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. virginia for obama

    Why? Reggie92. . . . so you can complain about that too. Why don't

    you tell Bush the same thing he's still the President last time I

    checked. . . . PS. He took the people that was in His life with him. Too

    bad no one wants you with them so stop hating and get a life like

    Your New President Barack Obama did.

    December 27, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. BigSixx

    I don't know why people keep bringing up the fact that PE Obama has has half-brothers in Kenya and is not doing anything for them. He probably has never had any connection to them. His dad left his mother when he was young. He only had one other meeting with his father before his death. There are people in the same cities that have no connection to certain family, let alone ones that live halfway around the world. PLEASE! Hate is not cute. Not going to do anything but burn your insides up.

    December 27, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Caribbean Lady

    OK..here goes. For all who don't know what shave ice is...it is simply that, shaving ice and adding syrupy flavours. It is a norm in the Caribbean and all the little boys and girls grow up on it. 'Shave ice' or sometimes called 'Snow Cone'. All colours, green blue, red and sometimes even with condensed milk on the top. Still a fave of mine at this age and stage.
    And, additionally instead of saying a vulgar word....sometimes 'Oh shave ice' is said instead.
    Another globally inclusive lesson.!!!!

    December 27, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Academic Equality

    To irritated in Fl: The election is over. Its done. He's going to be president barring anything unforseen. Trotting out conspiracy theories will do your cause no good. Saying a woman died early than claimed is about as sick as I have heard it however. As for giving the pres the slip, I have a child and if I can give them any measure of privacy in the grand scheme of things, who cares. As for the house, unlike you or I who would be happy to stay at the Motel 6, the President Elect cannot stay at any home or hotel, they have to be secure locations, and the layout where he is at is safer. It is not our tax dollars paying for it, and so he is free to make his choices. Bush spent more time on his spacious crawford ranch than any president with regard to overall vacation time. He is about to embark on one of the toughest presidencies of the modern age, so taking a break to clear his head is best for all of us.

    December 27, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Mom from TX

    What is wrong with the President having a little time with his family. It is not of national importance that we "see" every detail of his personal time with his family. Give him a break. I think that it is fine if you want to report that he took his girls on a family outing but it should just stop there! Every one needs a little down time and I think that Pres Elect Obama is due some. If CNN wants to keep up this tabloid reporting then I will go elsewhere for the important news of the day.

    December 27, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. John

    Let him take is family on vacation. The reporters should have been left on the main land.

    December 27, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. BigSixx

    I have decided that we have some idiots here who, no matter what PE Obama does, will never accept his actions as those of someone very capable. I think they live for it because they live in a fantasy world where Bush provided 8 years of bliss for this country and somehow PE Obama is going to mess it all up for the free world. The basic loser mentality.

    December 27, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Misty in Missouri

    Good Grief give the family some family time. What in the world does where they go as a family have to do with issues that are important to our country. Obama is the President not his children, parents, aunts , unckes, cousins. Put yourself in his place. (on by the way I didn't care for him as our new president) BUT everyone needs some private family time and it's none of anyone business where he goes or what he does during family time. I think most Americans don't give two hoots what his kids wear or the fact they spent a day at the park with mom and dad. That CNN would even cover this family outing lowers the high standards Im use to seeing from CNN. Shame on you CNN for lowering your news coverage standards.

    December 27, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. MARIA, LOS ANGELES

    GET A LIFE PEOPLE, SETTLE DOWN, OR LIKE THEY SAY IN JERSEY, JUST ADJUST....
    FOR THE OBAMA HATERS, GO TO THE GYM SO YOU CAN ALSO HAVE TIGHT ABS!

    December 27, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Please just let the man and his family have a vacation! He has more work then anyone on the planet to do when he comes back. And we all better hope he is great. Our country NEEDS great right now.

    December 27, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Charlie in Maine

    How nice that our new President's name would appear in an article with the word "Slip" and have it mean someting as wonderful as a day in to park with his wife and kids.

    Under Bush "slip" would refer to misspeaking on something as in:

    "President's slip results in international out-rage"

    or under Clinton quite another meaning: "Woman's slip found in presidential briefcase"

    I look forward to the rehabilitation of a number of words: Accomplished, Dress, Science, Executive Branch, Action ect.

    December 27, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Andrew

    As much as I dislike both Republicans and Democrats, they are both required to keep a balance of power. Crazies on both sides really want each other dead. You all live in such a black and white world. A white man, black man, a Republican, Democrat world. You should all be ashamed. I am giving Obama and the Democrats a chance. If things aren't better real soon, they will be kicked out on their butts and I'll give the Republicans another shot. Bi-Partisanship starts at our level people. By the way this article wreaks of TMZ.

    December 27, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Kitty

    Oh give me a break – this is not news. Report on this relationship with the crooked IL Gov.......

    LOL.....

    December 27, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Showing the way

    I think it's great he went to Sea World...he is role modeling for all the sit home parents to get out and do something constructive with their children.....

    December 27, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Jackson

    I warned you America.
    This guy is a total sleeze – a real user in the first degree.
    He was practically slobbering over the press before the press elected him (Get it America?) and now that he doesn't need them anymore,
    Bye Bye Press.

    BUT Wait...there's more:
    Just wait until the next big scandal, he'll either be running from them again or playing out his poor pitiful slanted side of the story for their next edition.
    You figure it out.

    December 27, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. Ravi in MO

    Some of you are absolutely pathetic. I'll wager that most of you are NOT Republicans! Many Republicans I know, while deeply disappointed with the election, do in fact respect Barack and believe that they must now move forward and continue working to rebuild their party and prepare for the future of our states and country.

    Au contraire, the White Democrats who supported that vicious racist Hillary Clinton are the ones who are sore losers and who have betrayed our party by violently opposing Barack. Those people chanting horrible words at Sarah's rallies were Democrats (who voted for Hillary), who turned against the party.

    Can you just sit back for a while, and give President Obama (on 1/20/09) a chance to start this tough long journey before you judge him? Just give him a chance, he might surprise you with what he can do!

    December 27, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Joyce

    He is liked by most people and they are interested in all that he does but I do believe he and his family deserve to be left alone. There will plenty of time after he takes offcie to cover where he goes and what he does.

    December 27, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Keith

    I'm incredibly distraught by all the Obama lovers. Obama is going to move us closer to socialism and you cheer him. Obama is going to do more to erode our rights than any other liberal President has and you cheer him. Obama is going to do more to placate the terrorists and you cheer him. You act as if the Middle East started hating us in 2000 yet you forget the events of Carters administration. You seem to think that getting something for nothing is good thing; that taking the hard earned wealth from those who worked for it and redistributing it to those who are too lazy is commendable when in fact it is vile. You cheer that the tax-and-spend policies of the left will cure the economy despite the fact that Obama has hinted at the truth of the matter by announcing that he would not repeal Bush's tax cuts for the "wealthy" while we are in this economic crisis. All of you Obama supporters who prefer higher taxes on those who make more money than you, a stronger Federal government and tighter restrictions on our Constitutional Rights are truly the mobile vulgus our Founding Fathers deeply feared. Congratulations.

    December 27, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Jess

    It almost sent my morning coffee shooting through my nose when the writer of this story implied that reporting on the Obamas' trip to Sea World is a "a vital service in a functioning democracy." Get over yourself, and keep my news relevant please.

    December 27, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. J. Dino

    I'll bet any one of you that Obama isn't going to change anything. Our country will continue this never-ending war and the New World Order will rise. Our economy will crash because the US dollar is basically worthless. It's paper with an interest rate. I can't believe you actually trust a Chicago Politician Lawyer.

    December 27, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Anna, Missouri

    eddie, we have a current president, President Bush, that is vacationing with his family for the holidays at Camp David. Don't you think that he should be doing something about your 401. After all, he is the one that is still in power. Obama doesn't have any power to do anything until January 20th. What exactly is it that you expect him to be doing, that the current President can't do? From your remark, I take it that you are not happy Obama has been elected, so you should be happy that we still have Bush in office to protect your 401 for most of the next 4 weeks. :)

    December 27, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. Guy

    Leave the Obamas alone and let them have their privacy!!!

    December 27, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Christopher

    Well there's just a whole load of hate going on in this comment thread. Honestly though, transparency isn't what Gelato Barack Obama ate on his vacation in Hawaii.

    Why don't you focus on other things that are going on right now, um Like 190+ dead in Gaza, or Pakistan rushing India's border, or or or, how the sitting president is twiddling his thumbs as United States slowly eats its own fat.

    December 27, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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