President Barack Obama and his family jaunted to Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday for the start of a 10-day vacation – an ill-timed trip, his Republican critics countered, given the crippled economy and nagging unemployment.
Obama wasn’t completely assailed for his decision to get some rest and relaxation, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg coming to his defense.
“The guy works pretty hard. He has a right to a vacation,” Bloomberg told reporters Thursday when asked about the uproar. “And incidentally, the phones work on Martha’s Vineyard, so he’s not exactly out of touch.”
Bloomberg himself has faced criticism about his whereabouts from time to time, most notably last December when he was out of town during a blizzard that paralyzed the Big Apple. He reportedly was vacationing in his Bermuda home, but said he’s never out of communication when he leaves the city.
Bloomberg, a three-term mayor, also said he hasn’t taken a two-week vacation in more than a decade.
Opposing parties often scrutinize the time presidents take off. Democrats took George W. Bush to task for visiting his Texas ranch while juggling a recession and two wars. And his dad was criticized for fishing off the Maine coast in the lead up to Operation Desert Storm.
The younger Bush spent 180 days on vacation at this same point in his presidency when compared to Obama, who so far has taken 61, according to CBS News. Ronald Reagan's vacation days numbered 112 and Bill Clinton had just 28.
On Thursday, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney advised Obama to return to the White House.
“Go back to the office yourself, pull back members of Congress and focus on getting the job done,” Romney said on a Chicago radio show Thursday. “This action of somehow this is campaign time and vacation time is exactly the wrong dose of medicine for the American economy.”
Romney, coincidentally, is slated to hold a fundraiser in Martha’s Vineyard on Aug. 27. His campaign said he won’t be on vacation during the visit.
This is the second summer that Barack Obama and his family have vacationed at Martha’s Vineyard. Favorite haunts of other presidents:
George W. Bush: He enjoyed clearing brush on his 1,500-acre ranch outside Crawford, Texas.
Bill Clinton: Martha’s Vineyard became a regular stop for him, Hillary and daughter Chelsea.
George H.W. Bush: He made Kennebunkport, Maine, his summer home, even inviting world leaders, such as Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev and Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin, to visit.
Ronald Reagan: He referred to his 688-acre ranch outside of Santa Barbara, Calif., as “heaven” and the Western White House.