Quiet Christmas Day for Obamas in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama began his Christmas Day with a trip to the gym and gifts for his family, starting a low-key holiday in his childhood home and a respite from the gridlock of Washington.

The vacation, the president's second since taking office, comes just a day after the Senate passed its version of his top domestic priority, a health care overhaul bill. With versions of legislation passed in both the House and the Senate, Obama departed Washington on Thursday for a trip that was designed to keep the president out of the public view and give him a hard-earned break.

The White House said the first family ate roast beef, potatoes and traditional side dishes at a rented, $9 million estate on Oahu on Friday. The president and first lady Michelle Obama didn't exchange gifts with each other, although they did with their daughters, aides said.

The White House said there would be no public events while the first family took a break from Washington and the political challenges that await the president's return in the new year. Officials said work would continue on Obama's agenda and he would receive necessary briefings.

Officials emphasized that they did not plan to make news, as they did during the Obamas' summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard when they nominated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for a second term.

Even so, the workspace for the traveling White House press corps included a camera-ready podium with U.S. flags for backdrops should Obama need to address reporters.

The president, a first-year chief executive who has inherited — and tackled — an economic crisis worse than anything the United States has experienced in decades, doesn't really get vacation amid two wars. Even his departure was delayed because his top advisers wanted him in Washington to witness — or baby-sit, depending on the official — the U.S. Senate pass its piece of a massive government overhaul of health care coverage.

White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday that the president wants to spend his holiday in his birthplace away from the news-of-the-moment distractions that have dominated his first year in office. The best any of the president's aides could promise would be bets whether lefty Obama would out-drive his good friends — joining him from Chicago — on the golf course.

The Obamas spent last Christmas and New Years on the island awaiting the Inauguration in Windward Oahu at a house that rents for about $4,000 a night. He played basketball at his high school, ate shave (never shaved, as the mainland says) ice, toured a zoo and aquatic park, and spread the ashes of his grandmother, who died just days before his historic election.

Early this Christmas Day, Barack and Michelle Obama — and their motorcade — visited a nearby Marine Corps base for a morning workout. Reporters accompanying the first couple didn't see the fit duo.

US

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Nicole Canedo looks at her City-issued Medical Reimbursement Account page on her computer outside her Berkeley apartment on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Canedo has worked numerous retail jobs in The City and the MRA has helped her with health costs. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Millions left sitting in medical reimbursement accounts by city workers

Health officials looking at how to improve access, outreach as untapped funds reach $409M

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF moves into purple tier, triggering curfew and business shutdowns

San Francisco moved into the state’s purple COVID-19 tier Saturday, requiring The… Continue reading

Indecline, an art activist collective in San Francisco, transformed a billboard into an editorial with a message blasting immigration policies of Donald Trump’s administration. (Screenshot, Indecline website)
Has immigration fallen off the administration’s radar? Not a chance

Enforced as executive orders, Trump’s hardline policies are proceeding, against will of the people

University of San Francisco head coach Todd Golden coaches his team on defense during a 2019 gameat War Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of the University of San Francisco. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Stunner in Bubbleville: USF upsets fourth-ranked Virginia

Less than 48 hours removed from a loss to a feeble UMass… Continue reading

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

Most Read