Washington Secrets

Michelle's ski trip marks 16 Obama vacations

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

First lady Michelle Obama’s weekend jaunt to Aspen, Colorado for a President’s Day ski holiday with her daughters Sasha and Malia makes the 16th time members of the first family have gone on extended vacations during their three years in office.

Their stay at the home of a major Chicago fundraiser for President Obama makes the fifth time the first lady and her daughters have taken a break from Washington on their own. Only once has Obama had a long weekend out of town and alone, celebrating his 49th birthday in Chicago in August 2010.

Accounting for trips out of Washington for several days, the total number of vacations Washington Secrets tabulated is 16, 10 where the family was together, such as for Christmas and summer vacations, one by the president and five by the first lady. Not included were Camp David visits or trips like the first family’s New York City date night in May, 2009.

According to presidential watcher Mark Knoller of CBS, George W. Bush, at this time of his presidency, had made 30 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 220 days. The Obama’s vacation day count is less than half of that.

But his have become more controversial because of the costs associated with moving the first family to a public vacation spot, unlike the Bushes to their remote ranch in Crawford, Texas. For example, the Hawaii Reporter said the first family’s 2011 Christmas vacation in Hawaii would exceed $1.5 million.

Critics and even some in his own party say the vacations present a bad image at a time when many Americans are struggling to get by during the recession. According to recent Harris poll, only three in 10 said they plan to take a vacation lasting longer than a week in the next six months, and that number has been dropping during the recession as people worry about the costs of vacations. Other polls have found that less than half of all Americans take all the vacation time they earn because they can’t afford trips.

The Obama Vacation List

-- President’s Day 2012, Michelle and the first daughters in Aspen, Colorado to ski.
-- Christmas 2011, the first family in Hawaii for an extended vacation.
-- Summer 2011, in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., for the annual beach break.
-- June 2011, the first lady, her mother and daughters traveled to South Africa and Botswana.
-- President’s Day 2011, the first lady and first daughters travel to Vail to ski.
-- Christmas 2010, in Hawaii.
-- August 2010, the first family traveled to Panama City Beach, Fla., for some sun and fun at the beach.
-- August 2010, Obama spent the weekend alone in Chicago for his 49th birthday bash.
-- August 2010, the first lady and daughter Sasha traveled to Spain for a mother-daughter vacation.
-- August 2010, summer vacation again at Martha’s Vineyard.
-- July 2010, the first family went to Mount Desert Island, Maine.
-- May 2010, the first family had a four-day trip to Chicago.
-- March 2010, first lady and daughter spend Spring Break in New York City.
-- Christmas 2009, Hawaii again for the annual break.
-- August 2009, at Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon for a short vacation.
-- August 2009, their first summer vacation as first family at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
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