HONOLULU (AP) — An ocean away from Washington worries, President Barack Obama opened his annual Hawaii vacation Saturday on a quiet note — and hoped it would stay that way for the next two weeks.
Every year, Obama and his family prepare to return to his birth state here on the sun-scorched shores of Oahu. And every year — until now — congressional squabbling has forced the Obamas to delay their trip.
This year, Obama was cleared for an on-time departure by Congress, which defied pessimistic expectations last week by passing a bipartisan budget deal, all but ensuring the government won’t shut down over the next two years. It was a far cry from presaging a new era of cooperation, to be sure, but a silver lining for Obama a day earlier as he acknowledged a year of frustrating “ups and downs” in an end-of-year news conference.
The president, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and first dogs Sunny and Bo hopped an overnight flight Friday aboard Air Force One to Honolulu, where they were whisked by motorcade to a beachside home in Kailua, a sleepy suburb with a five-mile stretch of beach popular among windsurfers and tourists.
The next morning Obama, typically an early riser, got a late start, staying at the home until early afternoon, when he headed to the golf course at a nearby Marine Corps base. Joining Obama for the round of golf were Sam Kass, the White House chef; Marvin Nicholson, Obama’s trip director; and presidential friend Bobby Titcomb, the White House said.
Obama, in white golf shirt, hat and sunglasses, was all smiles as he drove past reporters accompanying him to the coastal golf course.
The president has no public events scheduled during his vacation, which is expected to last through Jan. 5. In previous years, frequent golf outings have accompanied trips to local restaurants and other island outings.