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

Obama gives the press the slip

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Liz in Ohio

    YIPPEE!!! I LOVE the thought of 8 years of a BLISSFUL DEMOCRATIC Amerrica!!! You dumb Repubicans just don't get it and you never will!

    December 27, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Norah (Boston, MA)

    I wish that the press and the public would allow the Obama family to have some peace and quiet so that they can enjoy some time together before Barack Obama takes over the Presidency. The problems that he is facing in trying to bring America back from the black hole that the Bush administration has propelled us into are immense. Obama is not Bush- he is not going to be taking 4 months vacation a year when he is on the job- he will be working non stop. Let's give him a break now before he is sworn in. I find it interesting that some posts are angry that he is taking time during this economic crash- he is not yet president- let's put blame where it belongs- the Bush administration. We are already taking Obama for granted- no one has expected Bush to do anything to help us for eight years.

    December 27, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Cocktail Party Marxists? A dolphin show and shaved ice? That sounds elitist to me. Please.

    December 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Renee

    To Eddie about his 401K plan. If your 401k plan disappears before your very eyes, remember Bush gave billions to wall street after they ripped the people off the first time. Don't fault Obama for the choice you made to invest. I can't believe the dumb decisions people make for themselves and want Obama to take the fall for it.

    December 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. valdo

    I was deeply concerned that the Obamas decided to go to a park that openly advocates the use of animals, particularly sea bound mammals, as a source of entertainment. We, of the Preservation of the Dignity of All Sea Bound Mammals (PDASBM) campaigned strongly for the President Elect and are disappointed in his choice to continue the inhumane practice of using Sea Mammals as circus-like, freak show attractions. Shame on you Barry Obama!...Shame on YOu!.

    I ask all those who share in our disgust to please return all Obama inspired commerative plates, buttons, posters, bumper stickers, Franklin Mint plaques and action figures in a act of solidarity to support our large, cousins of the sea.

    Until there is equality and dignity for all species, we shall not rest!

    December 27, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Polar Bears Against Palen


    December 27, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. O in NJ

    LEAVE THEM ALONE!! Since when did CNN become paparazzi??? Take those reporters and go report on some real news...

    December 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. ace

    obama, you ran your compaign on change, you should take a stand against israeli aggression and carelessness of civilian lives..i wonder what the reaction here would be if those innocent civilians killed today were americans...its a shame.. that there is difference in the value of human lives based on thier nationality.

    December 27, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Canadian Watching

    I cannot believe some of the comments in here. After the last eight years of the Administration from Hell, you'd think that people would be happy and looking forward to some new ideas and feeling more positive about the future instead of looking for something more to complain about.

    You create your own experience in life. If you focus on the negative, more negative is what you will perceive. Focus on the positive, and you might be surprised at what comes your way.

    C'mon... let the man enjoy time with his family before he begins the toughest job in the world, and give him a chance.

    Personally, I think it's going to be a great eight years for you all. Believe!

    December 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. CG

    Concerning the legitmacy of Obama's birthcertificate:

    What he has produced to date and what Snopes produced a copy of was only that. Different states have different type certificates and Hawaii's is one of the most "different" I have ever heard of. Besides what he and Snopes produdced, they also have a more official document called a Live Birth Certificate. This he has never produced.

    Ask yourself this – If he can easily produce such a document for independent scrutiny, why doesn't he - instead of paying thousands to attorneys to counter all the lawsuits that have been filed in numerous states?

    Why has the MSM never done any REAL INVESTIGATIVE reporting on this? And that would mean getting info from other sources than Obama.

    December 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Ajeoae

    You guys are great at keeping track of Obama...why not put that good sleuth work to keeping tabs on Osama Bin Laden? 🙂

    December 27, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. Moe in Tn

    "eddie December 27th, 2008 12:03 pm ET

    It's nice to know that my future president is relaxing in hawaii while my 401k and stocks are dropping."

    At least the Bush brothers were not able to totally tank the Social Security Funds by moving them into the stock market. You should be thankful of that!

    I am amazed to be honest at the left in general, the blinders they have for their own party... they want to beat down anything anyone else does but seem to turn a blind... hummmm lets see here brother Bush spent OVER 879 days in Crawford or on some other "retreat" time.... lets see that is how much.... more than 30% of his total time in office.... I wish I had a job that would give me 30% of my time a year on VACATION... seems you might want to look at brother Bush before you give Obama a hard time for taking a vacation.


    One of the people in the US who can't afford to take a vacation because brother bush destroyed everything we worked so hard for....

    December 27, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. god bless the US

    the press is a business like anything else, they work hard to sell a headline.

    Of course obama will always have a camera on him 24/7 just like current bush has a camera on him 24/7. Though the major headline news is, what's more interesting?

    President bush caught on camera picking his nose?
    President obama caught on camera picking his nose?

    The press is there to sell you the news, and you folks gobble it up. When Obama becomes less interesting and more boring, they'll move on to someone else

    December 27, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    I still have my doubts about Obama, but, come on!, the dude's taking the last real vacation he's going to get for at least four years! Leave him alone!

    December 27, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Milhouse van Houten

    Shave ice is always better if you dump on about half a pint of cointreau.

    December 27, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Sherrol in Canada

    Keep on killing the press with kindness Pres-elect Obama, maybe reverse psychology is what's needed to get and maintain your daughters' privacy.

    Love the fact that Obama was able to give the press the slip in order to get a wee bit of privacy.

    December 27, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Eric C

    I think it's great that the press covers all these amusement park and dessert outings of the Obama's!!! Since all of the unimportant stuff was barely investigated or covered during the campaign (Wright, Ayers, etc.), and even his wife was off-limits (she had to be – she publicly hated the United States for years...couldn't risk a faux pas there). Yes, now we are getting the REAL journalism!!! My heart warms at all of this...*sigh*

    December 27, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. E

    Funny how people are still saying Obama has no right to go home for the holidays with his family when he is NOT President yet! But they have no problem George Bush having been on vacation for 3 of the 8 years he was President, including while New Orleans was drowning. hypocrits much?

    December 27, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Amber

    There is nothing more entertaining than watching right wing nut jobs froth at the mouth. I dont mean conservatives or republicans, they'rejust fine with me. I mean the legitimately disturbed people who think that Black Helicopters are coming to get them and that a man with a faked birth certificate could actually get THIS FAR in becoming president.

    By the way, nut jobs commentors on this blog: if anything happens to Obama during his presidency, it's on YOUR heads.

    December 27, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. let's get it over with, eh?

    obama pledged unconditional support for israel all the way,

    everyone's bankrupt,

    mosad got dirt under everyone,

    key positions are filled with AIPAC members and supporters, and

    no one's at the switch,

    let's just mow them down.

    December 27, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Joe Fattal

    I hope they all going to come back from Hawaii looking goooooood with that suntan.

    December 27, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. JB

    Brendan- I am not one of those wishing for Obama's failure, but, you mentioned Bush was a coke head. Do not forget Obama was as well. Some of these people are annoyed that the press did not provide people with all of the information regarding Obama. He also won his first primary by getting all other dems kicked out. The love affair between Obama and the press is frustrating considering the trashing they provided Bush. In addition, many libs annihilated Bush as well. Some of these people may be just looking to give it back. I would argue that the disgusting level as to which politics has denegrated is in fact caused by the angry hypocritical dems. No excuse, but facts are facts.

    December 27, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Jenny

    It must be nice to be able to afford a vacation in this economy.

    December 27, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Godluvr

    Ha Ha.....I love it! The press was too upset to eat!

    December 27, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Texas Teacher

    DE... you lumphead.... wipe the foam from your mouth! 🙂

    Coming from a family of military men, I am told that what you describe would be standard procedure for a military group of people. Unless it was a scheduled photo op like Bush/Cheney/McCain often had photographed to hit the news here. The military would have been instructed the member to remain seated until the PE came to them. For safety measure, they would NOT have mobbed the man!

    Come now.. find something else to rant about!

    December 27, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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