Obama’s vacation came amidst fiscal wrangling
January 5th, 2013
06:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama’s vacation came amidst fiscal wrangling

(CNN) - About 90 minutes after publicly berating lawmakers for failing to reach a fiscal cliff deal before the holidays, President Barack Obama flew out of Washington. He landed in Hawaii 11 hours later - over 4,000 miles from Capitol Hill, and where the temperature was a balmy 80 degrees, twice what it was in Washington.

"As we leave town for a few days, I hope it gives everyone perspective," he said in those remarks on December 21, two weeks ago. "Everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones."

Obama's Hawaiian vacation, an annual tradition, comes to an end on Saturday after nine days.

The fiscal cliff proved inescapable: The effort to reach a deal, which eventually passed the Senate and House, called him back to D.C. the day after Christmas.

But his haste to return to Hawaii, Obama rushed to the podium even faster than before. He spoke about 20 minutes after the House approved the measure, and took off to resume his vacation less than an hour after the vote concluded.

While in the Aloha State, the president made few appearances in public, though he fit in at least five rounds of golf and worked out at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii gym nearly daily.

He stayed with his family at a house in Kailua on the island of Oahu, the third largest of the state's 132 islands.

Information about his trip comes from reporters who traveled with the president and from the White House. Obama's house was not visible from the location where reporters were allowed to work.

Among the restaurants Obama visited was one run by the chef Masaharu Morimoto of television fame. Obama made several dinner outings with his wife and friends.

On Christmas Day, the White House said the Obamas opened gifts then "ate breakfast and sang carols."

Later that day he visited service members and their families at the Marine base.

"This is where I was born and so we come back for the holidays, but one of our favorite things is always coming to the base on Christmas Day and having a chance just to meet you, those of you who have families here, " he said, according to reporters who were allowed to watch his brief remarks, “and to say thanks for the extraordinary work and service that you guys do each and every day."

The Obamas also went on hiking outings and visited the beach at least twice.

Between time with his family came presidential responsibilities. The White House said that Obama received a daily briefing ands placed calls to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey regarding the Superstorm Sandy relief measure, which was working its way through Congress.

Obama also called the leadership of the new Congress to offer congratulations, the White House said.

On Thursday, he went bowling with his daughters and took them out for shave ice, the Hawaiian dessert treat. The White House only said the Obamas ordered "an assortment of flavors."

The pool reporter traveling with the president noted, "No details about strikes, spares, turkeys or other notable bowling feats were provided."

Obama is expected to leave the island late Saturday. He returns to Washington with several pressing issues on his plate, including the federal government’s debt ceiling. The president is also expected to make announcements on Cabinet positions soon.

Filed under: Hawaii • President Obama
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. NoTags

    Air Force One costs approximately $55,000 per hour to operate. To Hawaii and return would be over a million dollars. I hope the President enjoyed his trip at the expense of the American taxpayer.

    As a note, I was also critical of GWB using Air Force One for his frequent brush cutting trips to Crawford, TX.

    January 6, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  2. Tony D

    Why does it matter that he went on vacation? It is the job of Congress, and specifically the House, to control spending and set a budget. Obama, being the leader of the executive branch, can only approve or veto what they come up with.

    January 6, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  3. lyn

    President Obama and your Family enjoy your well deserve holidays, May the Lord watch over you and your love ones.

    January 6, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. Tony D

    @NoTags: Using Air Force One is a perk of the job as President. The President is the most important person to keep safe at all times, and as such they have Air Force One, a highly advanced plane with lots of defensive abilities and highly trained pilots, at their disposal. It is available to any President regardless of party. It is also a good idea to keep the President mentally stable by allowing him to go on vacations.... so as long as they are doing their job, what is the problem? It is not like the President is holding up legislation, nominations for branches of government, or anything else by going on a vacation.

    January 6, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. abmri60

    Our President deserves a vacation and spend quality times with his wife and kids, away from the hob nob buzz of DC.

    January 6, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. duke

    Wow, very objective reporting. No criticism of how much Obama is wasting! Good job CNN!

    January 6, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  7. bill davise

    So he came back for an extra press time, and yet they had 4 years to get the job done, 2 they were totally in charge..

    So we spent an extra $55,000.00 for 22 hours, so he could get 20 minutes on TV...

    January 6, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  8. Victoria

    Enjoy your Holiday with your family President Obama

    January 6, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  9. Jake

    George W. Bush took 1,020 vacation days, the most by far of any president in history. 1,020 is almost three years of vacation days. No wonder this country fell apart on his watch.

    By the way, President Obama was on vacation less in his first year in office than the previous three Republican Presidents. He deserves some time off with his family. The landslide victory over the Republican's this fall must have been equally exhilarating and exhausting.

    January 6, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Frankie

    Did Marian Shields Robinson /"First Grandmother"/ Michelle's mother, go to Hawaii and ride along in AF1 on OUR dime?

    January 6, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Yolie Scott

    Its amazing that people get upset when President Obama and family take a vacation. What about congress who is always on vacation, they are off more than they are working and we the taxpayers pay for that – along with all the other perks they receive. Leave President Obama alone and let him enjoy his time with his family and get over the fact that he was reelected President for the second term.

    January 6, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. RR

    It's his home. Most Americans try to return home for the holidays. I wish him and his family and very Happy Holiday.

    January 6, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Moon

    Before any of you Republicans get on here and talk trash about Obama going on vacation or using Air Force One, look up which President spent the most time on vacation in history, using AFO and Marine One constantly–yeah, your boy GW Bush. So, shhhhh.....

    January 6, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. Guest

    No president ever spent 7 million dollars on one vacation. And look at all the other expensive vacations he has taken off the taxpayer.

    January 6, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. w l jones

    Well well anybody who have work in the office knows theirs work is twice harder than a labor. When a labor leave work his day is over but an office worker leave his work is just beginning . The president work day never end so long he in office. Said enough.

    January 6, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. WMesser58

    What kills me is where they claim 99 percent of us didn't get a tax increase. The pay roll tax was increased by 2 percent ah, that's a tax increase no matter how you look at it my first pay check for this year is 80 dollars every two weeks less.

    It amazes me how they can lie and Manipulate the american people and still raise taxes and get themselves a raise as of which, I haven't received in the last three years and is suppose to be going to be another two years before they will consider another raise and I have to face another 10 percent cut in funding soon. When will Americans see how both parties keep working for the rich which by the way include "THEM" continue to screw the middle class if you can call us middle class anymore.

    January 6, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    The fiscal battle revealed that there are now three political parties: Democrat, Republican, and Tea Party. Rebranding of the Republican Party is endangered by angry Tea Party finger pointing and threats of retribution. Establishment Republicans must surely regret courting and pandering to such a divisive and fringe extremist group.

    January 6, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. john

    In 2011 the American taxpayer shelled out some $1.4 BILLION for the Obamas. Their dog handler makes over $100,000 a year (really? you can't even take care of your own pet?). In contrast, England spent a whopping $57 MILLION on its royal family. Actually, the Obamas cost Americas more money in 2011 than the WORLD spent on ALL of the royalty known to mankind.

    And FIVE rounds of golf? Really? It takes me 5 YEARS to get that many rounds in and I can only afford that because of my third job. Who's "out of touch" with the working class?

    January 6, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. August

    I'm amazed at the folks who still claim that Obama was reelected by a "Landslide". There are no numbers to prove that...but they keep on saying it like it's true.
    Meanwhile...his vacation costs are astronomical.
    PLUS..it's interesting that no Dems look back at what Obama's comments were about the debt ceiling or the federal spending before he was President. Wow – talk about total hyprocracy and a 180 degree turn around. He still hasn't explained that difference. What's next for him to lie about?

    January 6, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. john

    @WMesser58. The American people will never "see" what the parties are doing to them. They have their beer, their cigarettes, their couches and their entertainment (sports, reality TV, endless shows about celebrities, etc.). The average American is an ignoramus. Politicians lie to us regulary, get caught lying, and people – majorities even – still vote for them. How can any politician feel anything but disdain and contempt for such a constituency?

    January 6, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. enuff

    Congress has.taken more time off than the President and they are.the.ones responsible for the budget. Great reporting there CNN in trying to stir up the extreme right wing base.

    January 6, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. Zoey4801

    how many days was Obama out playing golf? it's not really vacation but he isn't working either.

    January 6, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Mazevo

    There is one thing to note Tony D is correct plus the President does not have any choices. He is required to fly on Air Force One because of safety factors and the risk to others if he were to fly on commercial flights. It is not like he can call Delta, American, or United and book a flight. He is entitled to a vacation just like the rest of us are. I think people forget that he NEVER stops being President. He does not go home at night like many of us and don't have to deal with work until the next day. He is on call 24/7 365 days a year while he is the President. I think that earns him some vacation time.

    January 6, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. Tony in St Louis

    President Barry O' is probably one of the greatest Presidents this country has had. I take no issue with him taking some well deserved vacation, on my dime!!! He's a true go getter!!!

    January 6, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. Carl

    He really should either pay expenses like all of us do when we travel on vacations.

    January 6, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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