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President Obama golfs, then spends Christmas Eve with family

By Star-Advertiser staff and the Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:37 p.m. HST, Dec 25, 2011

Photo Gallery: President Obama arrives in Hawaii

The Obamas spent a quiet Christmas Eve at home with a close circle of family and friends that typically joins the president for his annual Hawaiian vacation. They include Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who lives in the state with her family, and several friends the president has known since high school.

Earlier in the day, the president went golfing with old friends and White House staffers while First Lady Michelle Obama answered questions about Santa's travels from children calling NORAD.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command has been telling anxious children about Santa's whereabouts every year since 1955.

The White House said Mrs. Obama answered several calls from children around the country who wanted to know how close Santa was to their homes. During one conversation, she divulged how she and her daughters sought Santa's help in bringing the president to Hawaii.

"We were all praying and praying, and asking Santa, and the tooth fairy, and every fairy they could think of," the first lady said Saturday. She said their children prayed as well that the president "would be able to be with us."

President Obama eventually made it to Hawaii, about a week late, and only after Congress resolved its stalemate over extending expiring payroll tax cuts.

With the tense tax standoff behind him, the president has eased into vacation mode since arriving in Honolulu Friday night, spending a low-key Christmas Eve out of the spotlight.

Obama skipped his normal early morning gym workout Saturday, opting to spend time at the multimillion-dollar vacation home his family rents in the Kailua.. He headed to the golf course later in the day.

The president's motorcade left the Kailua rental house at 11:32 a.m. Reporters following the president said Kailua had been experiencing occasional showers throughout the morning. However the sun was shinning when the president's motorcade arrived at the Kaneohe Klipper course.

Last year, Obama also played golf on his first day of vacation in Hawaii.

The president's golf group was a mixture of old friends and White House staffers. Hawaii friends Mike Ramos, Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb, along with Chicago friend Eric Whitaker, are golfing with White House staffers Sam Kass and Marvin Nicholson.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has criticized Obama's plans to come to Hawaii and golf during his vacation.

In an Iowa telephone conference call earlier this month, Romney said that in some respects, Obama's "idea of a 'hands-on' approach to the economy is getting a grip on his golf club."

Romney used similar language in a fundraising letter that asked for $18 — one for each hole on a golf course.

However, some Democrats and even Republicans note that every president spends time away from Washington and engages in weekend recreation or relaxation.

After nearly five and a half hours of golf, the president wrapped up his game and returned home at 5:25 p.m., just before a late afternoon downpour.

Earlier in the week, it looked as though the president's annual December trip to the state where he was born and mostly raised might not happen.

The president pledged to stay in Washington until a deal on extending the payroll tax cuts was reached. When his planned Dec. 17 departure date arrived without a deal, the White House wouldn't say if or when Obama might leave.

A deal was finalized Friday morning. Hours later, the president boarded Air Force One for Hawaii to meet his wife and daughters, who traveled ahead of him.

Obama's first order of business when he arrived was taking his wife out to dinner. The couple joined a few friends at Morimoto restaurant in Waikiki.. Crowds gathered to watch the president leave at about 10:09 p.m. and several in the crowd cheered and took flash photos as the presidential SUV left the area. He arrived back at the vacation home at 10:44 p.m.

The president has no public events planned in Hawaii. A small group of advisers accompanied him to brief him on domestic and international developments.

The Obamas are expected to return to Washington shortly after New Year's Day.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
Obama's "idea of a 'hands-on' approach to the economy is getting a grip on his golf club."

Sadly true.All those rich Wall Street guys are on the course too instead of jail.
on December 24,2011 | 11:35AM
busterb wrote:
Mitt should play Obama, apparently he has $10K to bet... If anyone should take a Hawaii vacation it's Mitt, he's got a whole bag of flip flops.
on December 24,2011 | 11:55AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Obama will play Mitt once he gets his ears pinned down so he doesn't fly away like Dumbo the elephant with all the wind.
on December 25,2011 | 06:01AM
nitestalker3 wrote:
sorry, but have to ask...how come obama never came to hawaii with his family on vacation spending his own money. how come he's here all of his presidential years when we're paying the tab fm our taxes. too bad he doesn't go home to chicago and have christmas there. lot less tax money spent.
on December 24,2011 | 12:22PM
PaloloValley wrote:
Typical passive aggressive... "sorry, but have to ask.." Really? HAVE to ask? naaaahh .... That's the way any red-blooded American does it. It's MY taxes, too, and I say.... " Go For It, Presdient Obama !" He's not doing anything that any other red-blooded, white skinned president would do and he only does it for legitimate holidays.
on December 24,2011 | 01:44PM
areed wrote:
He did. It just wasn't news then. If you read the news prior to now...they note that he did come prior to his presidency and stayed at the Hyatt. There are pictures there. He needs a private home now for security reasons.
on December 24,2011 | 01:46PM
syhud wrote:
i like your thinking nitestalker3
on December 24,2011 | 07:19PM
Bothrops wrote:
Update: The sun is still "shinning" in Kailua.
on December 24,2011 | 01:24PM
PaloloValley wrote:
Geeezus... Hawaii newspaper not like it used to be. People don't take pride in their work, allows for lots of little errors. I guess it's the "Ainokea" attitude. Too bad........".. The president's motorcade left the Kailua rental house at 11:32 a.m. Reporters following the president say the Kailua has been experiencing occasional showers throughout the morning. However the sun was shinning as the president's motorcade arrived at the Kaneohe Klipper course." Terrible.
on December 24,2011 | 01:29PM
kam316 wrote:
who cares
on December 24,2011 | 01:32PM
WesleySMori wrote:
on December 24,2011 | 01:54PM
butinski wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 24,2011 | 02:01PM
lee1957 wrote:
He was in a riding cart.
on December 24,2011 | 02:38PM
GFORCE51 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 24,2011 | 07:50PM
butinski wrote:
Some people are sensitive where losing weight is concerned, especially porkies.
on December 25,2011 | 11:41AM
aomohoa wrote:
I bet she in a lot better shape than you.
on December 25,2011 | 10:36AM
butinski wrote:
Seems as though the censor control is at work. The comment was she needed to lose weight. Obvious enough, no?
on December 25,2011 | 12:43PM
OB1NONO_ME wrote:
Welcome Home Mr. President. Rest up and enjoy your family and the Holidays!
on December 24,2011 | 04:38PM
HD36 wrote:
And pray Ron Paul doesn't get the republican nomination.
on December 24,2011 | 05:48PM
cojef wrote:
Didn't know there are mean spirited people in Hawaii. Leave the 1st Lady alone. Please be kinder to our President, he the leader of the free world. I'm a republican and accept him as my President. Might be different I hope in January 2013, if we are still here. Remember the Mayan Calendar, Armageddon on December 2012 soltice.
on December 24,2011 | 05:18PM
HD36 wrote:
on December 24,2011 | 05:53PM
soundofreason wrote:
Don't you mean more DEBT? Obviously you're not one of the 53% who still pay taxes
on December 24,2011 | 06:40PM
HD36 wrote:
Hell no, I get over 500.00 in food stamps, and I'm staying on unemployment untill I get a government job that pays me twice as much. I never realized how fulfilling it is not working. If you're dumb enough to vote for him again, then Merry Chritstmas to you.....Brothuh.
on December 25,2011 | 09:21AM
aomohoa wrote:
Unless you are joking, you are the problem in this country!
on December 25,2011 | 10:38AM
soundofreason wrote:
You can only imagine my surprise
on December 24,2011 | 06:35PM
entrkn wrote:
If there is anyone in the world who deserves to be home in Hawaii with his family for Christmas, it has to be President Obama... I hope this one is the best one he has ever had.
on December 25,2011 | 10:18PM
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