President Barack Obama waves to a gathered crowd as he leaves the Bunch of Grapes book store in Vineyard Haven, Mass., Friday, Aug. 2010, where the first family is vacationing. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Updated: November 3, 2011 10:13AM
Is there ever really a good time for the president to go on vacation? President Barack Obama’s 10-day summer getaway from Washington to Martha’s Vineyard — scheduled to start Thursday — has reignited a seemingly annual debate.
As a guest on Chicago’s WLS-AM radio Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that Obama should stay in D.C. and call Congress back to work.
“If you’re the president of the United States, and the nation is in crisis — and we’re in a jobs crisis right now — then you shouldn’t be out vacationing,” the former Massachusetts governor told WLS hosts Don Wade and Roma. “Instead you should be focusing on getting the economy going again. And, yeah, go back to the office yourself, pull back members of Congress and focus on getting the job done.”
Donald Trump, appearing on Fox News earlier this week, complained, “the fact is, [Obama] takes more vacations than any human being I’ve ever seen.”
“They used to complain about George Bush, but I understand he’s already exceeded George Bush and we’re not even through the year. ... I think it sends a very, very bad message,” said Trump.
But Mark Knoller of CBS, the unofficial keeper of presidential work schedules, reported that President George W. Bush had taken more time off than Obama at this point in his first term.
Obama’s upcoming vacation is his ninth vacation since taking office. Obama has spent all or part of 38 days on vacation away from the White House. He has also made 14 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 32 days, for a total of 70 days, Knoller said.
Bush, at this point in his first term, had made 14 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 102 days, Knoller said. He also made 40 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 123 days. His vacation total at this point in his presidency was all or part of 225 days away.
White House press secretary Jay Carney doesn’t think the public begrudges the president a break to recharge and spend time with his family.
Carney also argued that the president is never really off-duty since White House advisers go with him, and he still receives regular briefings on national security, the economy and other matters.
Lawmakers are also away from Washington. But even if Congress stayed in Washington, too, there are no quick fixes for the country’s deep economic problems.
“They don’t have anything to act upon,” Rich Galen, a Republican consultant, said of both Obama and Congress.
“If anyone knew what the answer to this was, they’d do it.”
Sun-Times staff and wires