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Obama's Hawaii vacation contrasts with GOP in Iowa

By Peter Nicholas

Tribune Washington Bureau

LAST UPDATED: 02:06 p.m. HST, Dec 29, 2011

Photo Gallery: Photos of Obama's Hawaii vacation

As Republicans who want to be president slog through chilly Iowa in the run-up to next week’s caucuses, the man who is president moves from one enviable sun-splashed outing to the next.

The contrast between President Barack Obama’s week in Hawaii and that of the Republican candidates couldn’t be more vivid, as the first family celebrates the holidays in a multimillion-dollar rental house near the turquoise waters of Kailua Beach.

Today, the president and his family went to Pyramid Rock Beach at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii for some private time at a beach known for its bodysurfing waves.

On Wednesday, Obama golfed at a course carved out of a forest in Kaneohe while, in Muscatine, Iowa, Mitt Romney took a swipe at rival Ron Paul over his stance on Iranian nuclear weapons.

The day before, Newt Gingrich accused Paul of avoiding “reality,” while Obama and his daughters released four green sea turtles into Hanauma Bay, a snorkeling paradise.

Incumbency has its advantages. Obama can afford the vacation, having no serious opposition for the 2012 Democratic nomination. He paid his dues in Iowa four years ago, when he staked his long-shot campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton on a victory in the caucuses.

Splendid a time as he’s having after a tough year in Washington, Obama is taking pains not to rub it in. With Americans suffering through tough economic times, the White House has been careful to avoid photos of the president having too much fun.

He has been photographed greeting troops at a nearby Marine base, but not hitting a putt on a manicured green. Journalists were permitted to see him holding his daughters’ hands in a visit to a sea park, but not driving a golf cart.

Obama has been content to stay out of a news cycle dominated by the Republican race. White House press aides are on the trip, but are not giving the traveling press corps daily briefings. Reporters shouted a question to Obama on Tuesday about the Yemeni president’s request for a visa so he could travel to the U.S. to seek medical treatment.

“OK, guys,” Obama said, “good to see you. Hope you’re having fun.”

The politics of presidential vacations are tricky. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pulled the country out of the Depression, faced public criticism for fishing off Navy cruisers, said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University.

Obama, by greeting troops on Christmas Day, helped “inoculate” himself against “the charge that he’s basically off in lotus land while everybody else is suffering through the winter,” Baker said.

It all ends Monday. That’s when Obama returns to the White House, where plenty of real-world pressures await. He’ll need to jump back into negotiations to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012. And his re-election campaign will begin in earnest.


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toomuchpilikia wrote:
Don't worry, Be happy! America is in good hands as a few of us little guys (99%) hope to triple our net worth as OB1 has in just three years.
on December 29,2011 | 04:13AM
96706 wrote:
Good grief ... give the guy a break. It's only for ONE week. Geez.
on December 29,2011 | 06:28AM
WesleySMori wrote:
Amen 96706!! "AMEN"!!!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!
on December 29,2011 | 10:03AM
jusmetwocents wrote:
I think every president, whether republican or democrat deserves to take a break every now and then. Just like the rest of us 99 percenters do.
on December 29,2011 | 06:41AM
GWB took a lot more and a lot longer vacations than Obama ever has. Obama deserves a good vacation and I am glad he spends it in Hawaii.
on December 29,2011 | 06:50AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Kind of irrelevant, eh? Maybe Teddy Roosevelt took longer vacations too but he, like Bush, are long gone and it's really silly to keep referring back years ago. Try to keep up.
on December 29,2011 | 08:02AM
NiteMarcher wrote:
Normal people take vacations. Half of one's life is already spent with fellow workers at least 40 hrs. week. What person would want to see them on vacation too? Down time means exactly that....being away from everyone and anyone that reminds one of work.
on December 29,2011 | 08:20AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
I too have a difficult time not reminding everyone about all the things GWBush did to us, our country and the world, but Maneki_Neko is right. We need to put all those bad things in the past and talk about the future. Let's hope the American votes are smart enough to give President Obama four more years, if only because he is head and shoulders above all the "wannabes" in the all-too-frequent GOP TV shows.
on December 29,2011 | 10:09AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Prove it. Instead of blindly following the Liberal talking heads (Schultz, Maddow, O'Donnell, Maher, Steward, ad nauseum), please exhibit some sense of independent thought by proving your allegation. And, by the way, you really are a sheep being led to slaughter by that Judas Goat called Obama.
on December 29,2011 | 09:31AM
HD36 wrote:
A hole in one. A one A hole.
on December 29,2011 | 08:15AM
scooters wrote:
Made the mistake of having Christmas dinner at the Marine Corps Base mess hall. I just wanted to enjoy the meal and leave but I and everyone else were held "HOSTAGE" for 2 hours while Obama made the rounds to all the tables. Secret Service agents would not let anyone leave until "HE" left. Lesson learned.
on December 29,2011 | 08:18AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Have you no appreciation for the man? He and his adoring followers would remind you that you were blessed to be in His presence. Didn't you leave the mess hall after 2 hours feeling more intelligent and enlightened? Were you touched by the meaningless banter that he engaged in with your fellow Marines? Were you even able to but touch his clothing so that you could have some miracle performed to cure your disbelief? Now go, and sin no more.
on December 29,2011 | 09:47AM
GorillaSmith wrote:
You say show me a worse president than Bush 43 and I say you'll have to travel all the way to Kailua. Here's hoping the nation can handle another year of this bumbling amateur.
on December 29,2011 | 08:19AM
Okoles1 wrote:
Think he will be here for another term. We will have to live with that. By then our economy will start on the upward climb and all this will be because Oama was 'lucky'. Too bad we can't see that the 'Don't ask, don't tell' was repealed during his time in office. Evil of the world were eliminated, Sadam Hussein, Bin Ladin, Khadafi. Our troops are being sent home from Iran. The employed of this nation was able to have their adult child be covered by their insurance till age 26. Not having to prove their enrollment in higher education, as a 'student'. So I' d say it has been a great year, although the 1% will still want the rest of us to think it was so bad that we can not recover. History will show that whomever is in the White House they can't show what strides that Obama has done in 1 term so far. Blaming the last administration will be the mantra, no changes there. Showing improvement from where we were is the difference. Obama has made a difference, like it or not.
on December 29,2011 | 08:40AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Um, Saddam Hussein was found and executed on George's watch. You really need to find another news source than MSNBC and the Huffington Post, son. What you need is some time on the pond and to have a real job, pay taxes, raise a family, and have something in your piggy bank. That way, you can speak with some authority when you sing Obama's praises while watching your children's' and grandchildren's' futures get mortgaged away to fund his reckless and irresponsible spending sprees. Oh, look! Now he's asking for a raise in the debt limit to $15 TRILLION!...Add your great-grandchildren to the legions who will be paying for his progressive "vision".
on December 29,2011 | 10:11AM
Okoles1 wrote:
You have a lot of assumption of my opinions. I do pay taxes and have a real job. My children and grandchildrens' futures are up to me and my children's. I am raising my family and do have something in my piggy bank. I do not expect the President to 'FIX' anything I can do as a responsible citizen. Let him ask it is our elected officials that will represent those that elected them or do as the lobbyist have done for their interests. History has and will show that we will only let the few decide for us if we allow it. You may think it is up to the President, I think it is up to all of us.
on December 29,2011 | 05:29PM
Anonymous wrote:
I love Bachmann accusing Paul of paying her campaign manager to defect. Just now on the news, he said Paul didn't offer him a nickel... One more lie in the coffin for poor poor Michelle. What a geeek.
on December 29,2011 | 08:43AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Poor Michelle, she thinks Iowa voters should support her only because she was born there. "Don't pay any attention to my stupid gaffes, just remember, I'm one of you."
on December 29,2011 | 10:12AM
iwanaknow wrote:
Hear on the news that maybe Obama will have Hillary Clinton be his vp and Joe Biden be Sec of State...I could go for that.
on December 29,2011 | 08:54AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
I can see Hillary as VP (or President), but Biden as Secretary of State? No way.
on December 29,2011 | 10:12AM
808Cindy wrote:
We have a balanced leader, that's good for our Country. I pray everyone is not misguided by the small world of the cynics
on December 29,2011 | 09:45AM
entrkn wrote:
Hope the President and his family enjoys the rest of his Christmas R&R back home in Hawaii.
on December 29,2011 | 10:25AM
Iuki wrote:
Thank you for printing a relatively positive article regarding the Obama family's annual visit to Hawaii. Some of our local TV news shows have actually repeated negative comments about the visit--especially irritating is when they read from e-mails they've received via Twitter or whatever. Come on! This is Obama's home state and he has a right to bring his family here at Christmas. By doing so, he gets to spend some quality time with his wife and daughters, and he also heaps lots of great publicity on our state.
on December 29,2011 | 10:53AM
MBA_Guy wrote:
Yeah yeah, no big deal for a vacatoin like this, especially if it's on his dime. Good for Hawaii, publicity and all. And he makes a lot of people feel good, but it's his POLICIES that have failed and continue to really hurt our country. With much longer term adverse affects than Jimmy Carter's did.
on December 29,2011 | 11:14AM
tybro wrote:
Good grief is right, this poor man works 18 hour days with nothing but critisism from everhy corner of the country. Let the man relax and gear up for the battles he faces in 2012.
on December 29,2011 | 12:01PM
copperwire9 wrote:
We're happy to have you home for a few days, Mr. President. Aloha nui to you and your family.
on December 29,2011 | 01:15PM
HD36 wrote:
And please increase the budget ceiling a couple trillion to give us government workers more time to suckle the teet.
on December 29,2011 | 02:16PM
Kalli wrote:
This is one of the dumbest articles ever published by the SA and that says a lot.
on December 29,2011 | 05:13PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
Did Barack bring Uncle Omar and Aunt Zeituni to talk about immigration entitlements.
on December 30,2011 | 12:55AM
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