Obama's Hawaii stay: More golf

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 30, 2013 

President Obama opened a second holiday week in Hawaii on Monday with a round of golf -- his sixth since he and the First Family arrived in his home state shortly before Christmas.

The press pool with the Obamas in Hawaii said the president's golfing partners were "largely the usual cast of characters," including several staffers and family friends.

Obama's vacation lasts til Sunday and the $4 million price tag that some news outlets have put on the stay has prompted some grumbling: The Hawaii Reporter notes that Obama and friends pay for the private vacation rental in Kailua that fetch $25,000 a week -- but that taxpayers pick up the majority of the bill for the rest of the trip.

The website says Michael Tasselmyer of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, estimates the 18-hour round trip flight to Hawaii and back aboard Air Force One at $3,235,500. That's $179,750 per hour for flight and operation.

The Reporter says the cost for cargo aircraft that transports the presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii has never been disclosed, but the roundtrip flight time between Andrews Air Force Base and Hawaii is 21.5 hours, with an estimated operating cost of $12,000 per hour. (Complaints about presidential vacation are perennial -- Politifact last August did a fact check on the number of vacation days Obama took.)

The Obama's are generally warmly received in Hawaii, although demonstrators protested Saturday against unmanned drones in an area near the first family's vacation home.

The White House pool report noted Obama's motorcade passed a few dozen protesters holding signs to protest the use of drones and the continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Nearly 30 protesters demonstrated there Friday against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact being negotiated between the United States and several Asian and South American countries.

The stay is Obama's sixth Christmas in Hawaii since he was elected president, Hawaii News Now said, and his sister offered an apology for the traffic jams it causes.

"We are so pleased that he can find community and sweetness here and spend some time in this land, in this place. This is for him a place of pleasure 'tis true, but also of family intimacy and spiritual grounding," said Maya Soetoro-Ng, before adding, "Please forgive any traffic that is increased or made more dense as a result of his arrival and know that he and the rest of the family are very thankful for this chance to find a retreat."


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