Tales from the Trail

Will Gulf getaway be much of a vacation for Obama?

August 11, 2010

A two-day trip to the Gulf Coast for President Barack Obama and his family will feature some beach time but maybe not a great deal of rest and relaxation.

OIL-SPILL/ANALYSTSPreviewing the first family’s vacation to Panama City, Florida, this weekend, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it would include briefings on the oil spill cleanup, an update on how weather would affect the completion of the relief well and discussions about the spill’s impact on businesses.

Obama will also serve as chief pitchman for the effort to attract tourists back to the region.

“The president will meet with business and tourism leaders to discuss the impacts that they’ve seen on their business because of the oil spill,” Gibbs told the daily White House news briefing.

“It will be important for the president to talk about what are the next steps in bringing the region back,” he said.

For a second day in a row, reporters asked why Obama was only spending a few days in the Gulf  in contrast to his planned 10-day trip to Martha’s Vineyard that begins next week.

Gibbs said that Obama and his wife, Michelle, “both believe that it is important to highlight that …the Gulf Coast is, during a busy summer, open for business.”

So will Obama go into the water?

Gibbs said he would let that question “dangle” until the weekend. “We know that it’s hot enough that the one place you want to be most quickly is — having spent time in Panama City — is in the water.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama surveys damage along Louisiana coastline in May)

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