GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama for planning to take his annual family Christmas vacation in Hawaii this year while the economy continues sputtering.
"His idea of a hands-on approach to the economy is getting a grip on his golf club. He’s going off for 17 days in Hawaii," Romney said Monday night in a telephone call to a Cedar Rapids, Iowa town-hall meeting, according to media reports. "He’ll be playing a lot of golf. He told Congress that they need to stay in session and pass his tax breaks for the payroll tax and that they shouldn’t leave for vacation until they did that. And yet, he’s going off for 17 days and for golf in the sun and I just think it’s time to have a president whose idea of being ‘hands on’ doesn’t mean getting a better grip on the golf club."
The White House said earlier Monday that Obama and his family are scheduled to depart Washington Dec. 17 for their annual Hawaii Christmas vacation. But that date could fluctuate pending the outcome of debates in Washington over renewing payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits before each expire at the end of the year.
Obama, who was born on Oahu and spent much of his childhood here, returns each Christmastime for a low-key holiday with his family.
The president is not expected to have any public events during his Hawaiian vacation. He’s due to return to Washington after the first of the year.
After last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Obama told a gathering of campaign donors on Oahu that his family would be returning for their annual family vacation but that his arrival would depend on Congress.
"Michelle and the girls will be back shortly for Christmas vacation, as we do every year. We’ll see if Washington gets its business done so I can get here in time," Obama told about 250 donors at the Aulani Disney Resort at Ko Olina on Nov 14.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.