CBS Continues to Defend Obama Vacation Time With Bush Comparison

First Family, CBS Following a report on Saturday's CBS Evening News, in which White House correspondent Chip Reid defended President Obama's Maine vacation with a comparison to President Bush's vacation time, Monday's Early Show took the same approach as correspondent Michelle Miller reported:

But it's not just where and when presidents travel, it's how often. Ronald Reagan took 349 vacation days at his California ranch during his eight years in office. In his first year and a half as President, George W. Bush vacationed 96 days. Over that same time period, President Obama has taken 36 days.

On Saturday, Reid had similarly noted: "Whatever criticism there may be of the President's vacation choices, he's spent 33 days on vacation in his first 18 months. His predecessor, Bush W. Bush, spent 96 in the same period."

When Obama vacationed on Martha' Vineyard in August of 2009, Reid highlighted how it helped the local economy: "One thing that’s going to give a huge boost to the economy is all the Obama paraphernalia...t-shirts, it’s baseball caps and magnets and coffee mugs and glasses. And restaurants are selling the ‘Baracko Taco.’ Bars are selling ‘Ale to the Chief.’ And all of it is selling like crazy."

In the Monday Early Show report, Miller cited liberal presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who further defended Obama's decision to vacation in Maine, rather along the tourist-starved Gulf coast: "Sure, people might wish that Obama had gone to the Gulf, but had he gone to the Gulf, now people would have said he was going there for politics."

Goodwin went on to declare: "I think presidential vacations are essential. It allows a President to relax, to replenish his energies, to think. Something they sometimes can't do enough of in Washington." At that point, Miller observed: "Despite any criticism, presidential vacations leave indelible images." Goodwin chimed in: "JFK sailing is forever in our mind, that rugged JFK." Miller concluded: "Only time will tell how President Obama's hike in his dress shoes will compare with President Nixon's similar walk on the beach."

Following Miller's report, fill-in co-hosts Jeff Glor and Erica Hill shared their thoughts on the presidential vacation controversy. Glor sympathized: "I mean, the camera's always on....I mean even when he's there, they're there following from spot to spot. So, you're never really off that job." Hill agreed: "No, no. And that kind of comes with the territory."

Glor then remarked on the First Family's choice of getaways: "And not quite as hot there. Only high 80s, I think." Hill added: "Oh, it's so relaxing. Plus that nice breeze off of the Atlantic, it's fine."   

Here is a full transcript of the Early Show's July 19 report:

7:17AM TEASE

ERICA HILL: Plus, why the first family is under fire for enjoying a little R&R.

[FOOTAGE OF OBAMA EATING ICE CREAM]

HILL: The ice cream gets you every time.


7:30AM TEASE

HILL: Speaking of vacations, the first family spent a fun-filled weekend in Maine, a little mini vacation, but their time in the sun is stirring up plenty of controversy. So we'll take a closer look at that as well.


7:46AM SEGMENT

ERICA HILL: President Obama catching a little more flack from critics this morning. But not for his policies this time, it's for taking a family vacation in Maine. CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports.

MICHELLE MILLER: The First Family returned to the White House Sunday from a weekend vacation, a getaway that included hiking, boating, and eating ice cream in quaint Bar Harbor, Maine.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: First Family's Maine Event; President's Getaway Draws Criticism]

UNDENTIFIED WOMAN [BAR HARBOR ICE CREAM SHOP]: I think everybody needs a weekend off to recharge and get some ice cream.

MILLER: Given the ongoing crisis in the Gulf, the President's weekend escape received a good share of criticism.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN [PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN]: Sure, people might wish that Obama had gone to the Gulf, but had he gone to the Gulf, now people would have said, he was going there for politics.

George W. Bush, CBS MILLER: Questioning presidential vacations is a time-honored tradition. The Clintons frequently sailed off of Martha's Vineyard. But after polling the public, they switched to middle-America-friendly Wyoming. George Bush senior took heat for golfing in Kennebunkport, Maine as troops were deployed to the Persian Gulf for the Iraq war. But it's not just where and when presidents travel, it's how often. Ronald Reagan took 349 vacation days at his California ranch during his eight years in office. In his first year and a half as President, George W. Bush vacationed 96 days. Over that same time period, President Obama has taken 36 days.

GOODWIN: I think presidential vacations are essential. It allows a President to relax, to replenish his energies, to think. Something they sometimes can't do enough of in Washington.

MILLER: Despite any criticism, presidential vacations leave indelible images.

GOODWIN: JFK sailing is forever in our mind, that rugged JFK.

Barack Obama, CBS MILLER: Only time will tell how President Obama's hike in his dress shoes will compare with President Nixon's similar walk on the beach. Michelle Miller, CBS News, New York.

HILL: That may be the strangest thing, taking a hike in dress shoes. Out of all of this, all the criticism aside, it's not very comfortable. You could slip very easily.

JEFF GLOR: But there's the thing, I mean, the camera's always on.

HILL: Always there.

GLOR: I mean even when he's there, they're there following from spot to spot. So, you're never really off that job.

HILL: No, no. And that kind of comes with the territory, which-

GLOR: Which he knew that.

HILL: Which everybody – which everybody knows going in.

GLOR: They all knew that.

HILL: It's true.

GLOR: And not quite as hot there. Only high 80s, I think.

HILL: Oh, it's so relaxing. Plus that nice breeze off of the Atlantic, it's fine.

GLOR: Yes, with dress shoes.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC