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. Yeah

    Mmm, shaved ice. How cute. Everyone gave Bush a hard time for taking vacations, but it's okay for Obama to do it . . . He's Jesus junior, so it's okay.

    December 27, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Lida Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang Seo Yarışması

    Lida Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang Seo Yarışması

    Lida Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang Seo Yarışması

    December 27, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Guy

    The main thing about leaving the Obamas alone is that who really gives a _ _ _ _ to begin with? I don't!!!

    December 27, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Leo

    The "media pool" is acting more and more like mob of paparazzi. Because of the popularity of Obama and his family, many are going to take side and begin, in empathy, to feel resentment toward even "reputable" news sources such as CNN.

    If CNN and other "reputable" news sources can't define the "fine line between keeping the public eye on the president-elect while keeping the children's privacy," then the public will no long recognize the difference between reliable news sources and tabloids.

    Shame on the media.

    December 27, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. JB

    I just read the Rahm Emmanuel Subpoena article below, and I gotta say. . . . the people of this country, or at least those who read these tickers have ZERO READING COMPREHENSION. ZERO.

    The comments are all over the place and not even close to what the story is about. That story has NOTHING to do with Republicans. And, if Blago's lawyer is asking for Rahm to testify, it is because he thinks Rahm can prove his clients innocence. There should be a basic reading comprehension quiz before people are allowed to post.

    December 27, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Mrs Wallker

    Ok! This was not news. But I find it interesting some of the post here. Some are really great reads. Some show intelligence or lack of and some are just plain funny.

    For the record, Mr. Obama is in the incoming President. He takes office in less than three weeks. Having gotten that straight the country voted him in. Unless the out-going President who stole the White House and selected and was decided by the courts (to stop counting the ballots) Also, you have a hightly educated, accomplished, steady, not flaky incoming and we know the history of George W. Bush, neither is perfect. I find a lot of the people who posted here are simple perfect, got all the right answers and solutions, and I for one would love to see their bottom line. But was not smart enough to have run for office, why? All those people with negative, what would you do differently, and no one here as mentioned he went there lay to rest his grandmother! I know some of you here has never had one you valued, your tone proves it!

    December 27, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    The reporting of PE Obama's every move is a waste of resources. He needs privacy and they are other means of keeping tabs on his activities. For CNN to report they were the only News agency to report the outing further shows this is over the top. I am a Republican and hope Obama does the right things, but the press needs to act repsonsibly and soak the Hawaii sun.

    Hoping in Connecticut

    December 27, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Jeff

    Leave the guy and his family alone on vacation.Geeze,I dont think we all need to know what time he might have farted and what it smelled like.

    December 27, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. carment

    @Irritated in Fl: "He's always trying to buy the press gifts. I guess he feels guilty for all the free positive coverage and protection they provided him during the election."

    You mean like how McCain was always inviting the press to the barbeques at one his many homes. Guess shaved ice just doesn't match up to prime ribs, eh? Maybe that's why they refuse - not grand enough for them!

    December 27, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Lisa

    I wish the press would leave our President Elect alone

    December 27, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Shannon

    I think it is great that he is spending some much needed time with his family. I'm not one for the press to "stoke him and his family" There should be laws against this kind of invasion.. I hope they have a great rest of there vacation...

    December 27, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. TJ

    Did Obama take care of any birth certificate business on the island? Is he doing anything in terms of damage control with his half-siblings and other family members? These are questions the press could answer if given more access. He is no longer a private citizen. He is a public figure. It's too late to treat the same press that got you elected all of a suddn like they're paparazzi. They are there to keep our president elect accountable 24/7.

    December 27, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. PJP

    The man better get use to all the press. He and his people decided for him to run for president and most of the people voted him in so "here come the press"! So sorry Charlie, just like any other president, you and yours are not exempt!

    December 27, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Jason

    If this moron can't handle the press then he needs to give up being the President. He is such a baby. Does he think he is special because he is a black man? I think not. GET OVER IT!!!!!!

    December 27, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Flippy

    Um.. yea, and I suppose Hillary was running on her own merits and the fact she was married to the man known as "Bill Clinton" had nothing to do with it?

    December 27, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. LizyB

    I cannot express how happy I am whenever I read some freaked out right winger's inane ramblings and fear based scribbling. I laugh and laugh all day when they still try to insist PE Obama's not a "real" citizen with his fake Birth Certificate. I giggle when they are mad because he earned money on his own (unlike Bush) and is spending it on a nice vacay for his family. (what, they should go to Disney World like you?) When they accuse him of "buying" the press, with beer and ice!

    And the reason I laugh is because of the absolute relief I feel knowing that Obama was elected and he will be running the country in less than a month. I laugh because for the first time in 8 years, I am not crying. I laugh because I am not ashamed of this country anymore. And I laugh because these angry, sad, silly people have nothing more they can do to hurt me or this country and for that I am grateful and will laugh for the next 4 and hopefully 8 years. And finally I laugh because no matter what, nothing Obama can do will ever cause the utter destruction of the last 8 years of Bush/Cheney and their soulless, Vietnam deferring, murderous, greedy, irresponsible ilk. (one never sees any of then in church, but the Right doesn't seem to comment on that hypocrisy!)

    I laugh because we are finally free!

    December 27, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. billy-bayou

    Having waded through all the idiot comments about the Sara Palin calender, I decided to design one of my own.

    As I look at the incoming administration I can picture Joe Biden walking along the baordwalk with his organ on a stick, cranking out music, and there he is ....obama.

    What a wonderful image for your 2009 and beyond calender.

    December 27, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Simone

    Power failure in Hawaii?

    I'm surprised Obama just didn't raise his arms and say:
    "Let there be light"

    Oh what fools we mortals be waiting for this miracle man...NOT

    December 27, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. kelly WI

    Rahm, Obama, Gov. Blag.....let the cover up begin.
    I would quit fawning over him by now. He hasn't done anything positive for the country and is following Bushes "War" policies. Also plans on plunging the country into un ending debt. Guess he doesn't want America to be the leader of the world any more.
    Some of you should read other papers and articles besides CNN.
    Good thing he is keeping on a lot of Bushes appointees. At least they know what is going on out there in the world and know what to do about it.
    Can't wait to watch Hillary increase the State Dept and take over his presidency. The puppet will really be dancing.
    As for his vacation... who cares.

    December 27, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. The Blessed One

    Obama is The Second Coming! He is the Savior of all mankind.
    He will redeem our sins of the past 8 years, and lifts America back into the pedestal that the entire world worships.

    How dare you speak ill will of Him?! May He punish you with all His might when He takes office on January 20.

    Free at last Free at last... Obama is our Savior!

    December 27, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. SMR

    Good move PE OBAMA. Now the evil side will say u have something to hide. HAVE FUN

    December 27, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Matt

    Dear CNN;
    Did Obama happen to sneeze as well? If so, at what time of day did it happen? I am very interested to know why you do not have such information, but continue to report other relatively unimportant things like the war in Iraq. I, as an American citizen, need such information as the exact time the president sneezes.

    December 27, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. june

    I wish the press would leave the Obamas alone while they are vacationing. We do not need to see a photo of the Pres eating shaved ice or anything else. Leave him alone!

    December 27, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Renee

    Obama has done nothing wrong and yet you critics are persistent in using every little thing he does or don't do to appease yourselves in making him appear to be what you right wings want him to be, "a nobody."

    I didn't hear any complaints when Bush was walking his pooch and chillin in the oval office when 911 and hurricane katrina took place. Obama is on his time, not ours. Bush is still in office, so blow up the blog about him. Obama didn't cause the economy problem, Bush did and hasn't done anything but hurled out money to shut people up because he doesn't know jack about governing the people.
    Does anyone have a shoe I can throw at these embasils on this blog?

    December 27, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. liz

    May be we should all withdraw our votes for OBAMA and give it to McCain or we should let Bush continue in office.
    Suck it up! Obama won and he is going to be our president for the next four years.
    The country is in worst situation it ever been. We desperately need a president who can take us out of this mess. Obama won the election and he will need our support.
    Obama may not be the right person for some of you (fools) but he won and we should all give him our support.

    December 27, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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