Obama drives ahead with domestic agenda – and vacation – amid Ukraine crisis
March 7th, 2014
07:44 AM ET
8 months ago

Obama drives ahead with domestic agenda – and vacation – amid Ukraine crisis

MIAMI (CNN) - The standoff between the United States and Russia over Ukraine is not preventing President Barack Obama from pursuing his domestic agenda – and his vacation.

The foreign policy crisis has occupied the bulk of Obama's attention this past week although he’s also carved out time to press issues opposed by Republicans: his budget proposal, a hike in the minimum wage, and encouraging Latinos to sign up for Obamacare.


He continued the theme on Friday by visiting a school in Miami to encourage more teenagers to apply for college financial aid.

It's a balance Obama has attempted to strike throughout his presidency, from navigating the Arab Spring to sizing up the young new leader of North Korea – all while attempting to shore up a sluggish U.S. economy.

Obama also isn't letting the incursion of Russian troops into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula prevent him and his family from enjoying a weekend away from Washington, currently beset by cold temperatures and sloppy piles of melting snow.

While the White House signaled earlier in the week that a long-planned getaway in South Florida could be nixed due to overseas events, the commander-in-chief and his family will remain in Key Largo for the weekend.

All presidents are routinely criticized for taking time off even though the chief executive always travels with a full retinue of aides and secure communications equipment. This means he can work and the requirements of the job are never far away.

Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, was on the Florida trip.

"What the President will be doing this weekend in Florida is essentially what the President would be doing back at the White House. It's just that the weather will be a little warmer," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The Obamas will stay at the Ocean Reef Club, a private compound that still enforces a dress code "designed to complement today's more casual lifestyles while still respecting the Club's longstanding traditions."

It boasts 36 holes of golf as well as spas and restaurants.

Earlier this year, Obama tacked a weekend of golf in California onto a meeting with the king of Jordan at the Sunnyland's estate near Palm Springs. And he golfed regularly on his annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii.

At his event Friday at a Miami magnet high school, Obama tried to persuade more students to complete the paperwork required to obtain federal financial aid for college.

The White House says the U.S. Department of Education will begin identifying individual students who haven't filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and use the information to try and convince them to apply.

“No striving, hardworking young American should ever be denied a college education just because they can't afford it,” Obama said at Coral Reef Senior High School.

He also blasted Congress for what he said was intransigence in approving his education agenda.

“Congress needs to stop doing nothing,” he said. “We need to do right by America’s students and America's teachers.”

It's all part of Obama’s attempt to increase opportunities for middle class Americans, which has been the goal of his second-term domestic agenda. Part of the push has included pressing Congress to increase the federal minimum wage.

During remarks on Wednesday in Connecticut, Obama said that the global flashpoints that have sprung up during his tenure should serve as a reminder of the importance of fortifying the American middle class.

"There's been a lot of news about foreign affairs around the world over the last several days, but also for the last couple years," Obama said. "It doesn't matter whether it's in Central Europe or in the Middle East or Africa - individuals want a chance to make it if they try. And what makes us special is we already do that when we're at our best. But we've got some work to do to match up our ideals with the reality that's happening on the ground right now."

He made no mention of the Ukrainian crisis while in Florida.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    I am sure the wingnuts will be upset again, since there is so much brush to clear in Crawford, and our president is going to Florida. Actually, if you omit elected republicans, Florida is a nice place to live.

    March 7, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  2. Beth

    Yes, go on vacation so you won't screw up anything else.

    March 7, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- CPAC(Crazy Pitchfork Apocolyptic Covenant)

    Here we go with the vacation nonsense again. Do the comparison to his predecessor.

    March 7, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    and encourage Latinos to sign up for Obamacare
    -------------------------------------------------
    My fellow Latinos here at work love you Mr. President and they thank you.
    You have made many of us that were previously politically apathetic want to stay involved and be a part of the political process in this country.
    Continue to address yourself to all of the groups you are trying to encourage to sign up.
    Indeed Mr. President I encourage you to campaign on your own if you have to on behalf of all Democrats running for the House and Senate this fall.
    No one else has your reach and your mass appeal. Use it!
    Charge up the base Mr. President!!
    Latinos seguimos unidos con Obama.

    March 7, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  5. george

    He needs a vacation, how else would he find the time to spend millions we don't have and to dream up ways to screw the American people more than he has.

    March 7, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. king

    on one hand the repbs are jumping up and down about the 17 trillion dollar deficit, on the other hand they are urging obama to start world war III, by using school yard tactics of bullying.

    March 7, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  7. Gunderson

    Well,
    What's-His-Name's Poll numbers are in the 30's, the country is looking like the 1930's and Nero is Fiddling. Now let's see what the Brains say.

    March 7, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  8. Wake up People!

    I love the smell of right wing bias in the morning. What a completely misleading headline. Sometimes I wonder, whose news am I reading?

    Good Ole red meat to start the weekend off with a bang.

    March 7, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    Just focus on home-front, I don't care what Crimea,or Ukraine. Fix potholes, fix LaGuardia Airport, JFK etc. Make congress idiots pass Jobs-Bill. Good lucks.
    PS: I would vote for third term too for this president.

    March 7, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. Stuffitu

    Makes sense, jobless rate rises, the labor participation rate drops to a 35 year low and the corrupt president who said he woul not rest until the economy recovers is off on another taxpayer paid vacation. It has been less than a month since his last one. Way overdue. Not to mention that the world is blowing up due to his inept, incompetent foreign policy.

    March 7, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Gunny – Check out Rassmussen numbers today. You may be incorrect again.

    March 7, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. TONE

    @Gurgyl

    Just focus on home-front, I don't care what Crimea,or Ukraine. Fix potholes, fix LaGuardia Airport, JFK etc. Make congress idiots pass Jobs-Bill. Good lucks.
    PS: I would vote for third term too for this president.

    Spot man i couldn't say it better.

    March 7, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Obama has no intention of doing anything about the Ukraine crisis.

    March 7, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. Hector Slagg

    Well,
    When you elect a Show Horse instead of a Work Horse this is what you get. This is the best Advertisement to return all Social Spending to the States where it belongs. The Federal Government has no business in the Medical Business, no Business in the Welfare Business, in most cases no Business in collecting and Disbursing Money. If nothing else the 17.5 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt should tell you that.

    March 7, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Rusty Krus

    @Rick McDaniel
    Obama has no intention of doing anything about the Ukraine crisis.

    He signed an executive order against Russia. What else can he do with this Congress you genius?

    March 7, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |