ABC news recently reported that most Americans are cutting back on their vacation plans due to high gas prices and the lagging economy. But the Obamas seem to be oblivious to the issue.
The topic of the First Family's frequent vacationing is one that a St. Louis TV anchor thought was worth investigating. Larry Conners of KMOV-TV wondered if the Obamas spend an inordinate amount of time vacationing at the expense of the American taxpayer?
This is not exactly a new topic:
- The frequency and cost of these the Obama family trips has been covered on the Blaze as recently as December when the First Family's Hawaiian vacation was reported to cost as much as $4 million dollars.
- Last summer the Daily Mail reported that Michelle Obama had already spent up to $10 million dollars on trips to Spain, Vail, and Martha's Vineyard.
Conners was among a group of local newspeople from around the nation invited to Washington for individual sit-down interviews with the President. Conners covered many topics with Mr. Obama, but his question about the taxpayer funded vacations (and the President's answer) is worth reviewing:
“The economy is a big issue and concern for folks. I mean, the unemployment, trying to make ends meet, gas prices, food prices going up. Some of our viewers are complaining, they get frustrated, even angered, when they see the first family jetting around, different vacations and so forth, sometimes maybe they think under color of state business and that you’re out of touch, that you don’t really know what they’re experiencing right now.”
How did the President respond? In a slightly testy fashion:
“Well, I don’t know how many viewers you’re talking about that say that.”
Conners parried with:
“We do hear from some.”
The President seemed to be trying to diminish the question by saying the following:
“I hear from all kinds of viewers about everything.”
He eventually gave a sort-of answer, but it really side-stepped the question:
“But the fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I’m raising a family here. When we travel, we got to travel through Secret Service, and Air Force One, that’s not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people.”
The answer managed to avoid the real question about the frequency of the family vacations that the Obama's take.
The question about the vacations starts at the 1:40 mark of this clip:
Last summer, CBS News reported on the number of days that Obama had spent on vacation and compared it to the vacation days of Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton. The issue of the cost to country was not brought up in this comparison, just the number of days.
According to the stats kept by CBS' Mark Knoller, both Bush and Reagan spent more time away from Washington DC than Obama has. However, it should be noted that the Reagan and Bush vacations were typically spent on their ranches. The Obama family vacations include exotic and exclusive (read "expensive") locations around the planet.
Knoller also notes that Presidential vacations are hardly the same as vacations taken by typical Americans who can generally leave work problems in the office.
The issue of taxpayer funded vacations for the Commander in Chief will always be fodder for any president's political opposition. But, as the 2012 summer vacation season approaches and rising gas prices add to costs of airfare and car travel, the White House must be aware that a majority of Americans have had to curtail or completely cut out their travel plans. Could this become a campaign issue for the GOP?