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First family arrives for island holiday

By Michael Tsai

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:58 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2013


President Barack Obama and the rest of the first family arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam late Friday evening to begin their sixth consecutive Christmas vacation in Honolulu.

The Obamas are expected to spend the next 17 days at a luxury beachside rental in the same Kailua neighborhood in which they've stayed during their previous Hawaii vacations.

Air Force One touched down around 11:30 p.m. and the Obamas emerged about 15 minutes later to a rousing cheer from about 100 service men and women who had waited hours for a glimpse of the president.

The Obamas were greeted by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

While daughters Sasha and Malia were quickly escorted to a waiting vehicle, Obama and wife Michelle took a few minutes to share hugs and handshakes with the assembled military personnel.

The president arrived in the islands with an acknowledged desire to rejuvenate himself following a tumultuous year that saw his political successes -- including his stare-down victory over Republicans in the government shutdown battle and the diplomatic breakthrough that yielded agreement by Iran to freeze its nuclear-enrichment program for six months -- overshadowed by the Obamacare website fiasco, revelations about the National Security Agency's questionable spying practices, and an inability to garner bipartisan congressional support for gun control measures and other priority legislation.

Hours before Obama and his family boarded Air Force One for Honolulu, the president held his final press conference of the year and, citing recent economic growth and falling unemployment numbers, expressed optimism that "2014 can be a breakthrough year for America."






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