MSNBC Gushes Over 'Ice Cream and Golf' on Obama's Vacation

Filling in for Andrea Mitchell during Thursday's 1 p.m. ET hour on MSNBC, Savannah Guthrie talked to correspondent Kristen Welker about President Obama's vacation plans: "Kristen, do you have any idea what he and the First Family plan to do while they're spending this time on Martha's Vineyard? I'm going to venture a guess there will be golf and ice cream, if past vacations are any indication."

Welker enthused: "I think you're absolutely right about that, Savannah. I think there's going to be golf, I think there's going to be ice cream. We've passed some really good-looking cupcake shops as well. So I bet there are going to be some cupcakes and some swimming time with his family."

Welker went on to add: "A little bit of a fun fact, by the way....It turns out President Obama has actually taken fewer vacation days than some of his predecessors. He's taken 61 vacation days at this point in his presidency. George W. Bush had taken 180 vacation days and Ronald Reagan had taken 112."

At the beginning of the exchange, before turning to the "shallow side" of the President's vacation, Guthrie did more seriously note: "I'm sure the White House has heard the criticism, I mean not only the vacation...But I'm sure they're also hearing why is he waiting until after Labor Day to make this jobs announcement, when you do have an economy that's really teetering and the numbers on the Dow just demonstrate that, you know, put a fine point on it."

Welker pointed out: "That's right. You have a lot of, particularly Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney came out and said, 'Why are we waiting?' Michele Bachmann, who questioned the timing. White House officials saying, 'Look, he needs to work on this jobs plan and then present it to people.'"

Here is a full transcript of the August 18 segment:

1:45PM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The President certainly will be watching, is watching from Washington and then he'll head off to vacation with his family to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. And that's where we find NBC's Kristen Welker, awaiting the First Family's arrival this afternoon.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: No Rest For the President]

And Kristen, the President is not leaving a situation that is particularly positive, as far as the markets are concerned. Let's talk about this jobs plan that the President says he will announce upon his return after Labor Day. He's been talking about various jobs initiatives over the last couple of weeks. But is the White House promising something over and above the things the President has been talking about?

KRISTEN WELKER: Well, we're getting information, Savannah, in bits and pieces. They're basically saying that this plan is going to be announced after Labor Day. It will include some tax cuts for companies that are hiring, also will include investments in construction projects, but they're not giving us a whole lot of information. We also know that there will be a deficit reduction portion to this package. So they're talking about the fact that this is really going to be something the President will be working on while he's vacationing here on Martha's Vineyard. This is a bit of a working vacation, if you will.
                    
As you know, the President's gotten some criticism for this vacation. A lot of folks saying the unemployment rate is above 9%, the President should cancel his vacation, should get back to work on the economy. The White House is saying 'Look, the office of the presidency really follows Mr. Obama wherever he goes,' he will be working on that jobs package,' which we expect to hear about after Labor Day, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, and I'm sure the White House has heard the criticism, I mean not only the vacation, that's the annual criticism every time he goes. I think this is his third visit to Martha's Vineyard since his administration, he goes every summer. But I'm sure they're also hearing why is he waiting until after Labor Day to make this jobs announcement, when you do have an economy that's really teetering and the numbers on the Dow just demonstrate that, you know, put a fine point on it.

WELKER: That's right. You have a lot of, particularly Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney came out and said, 'Why are we waiting?' Michele Bachmann, who questioned the timing. White House officials saying, 'Look, he needs to work on this jobs plan and then present it to people.' Of course, Congress is also on vacation right now.

So there have been some questions about timing, you're absolutely right. And as you mentioned, presidents do get critiqued from time to time for going on vacation because often there are difficult things going on in the country, people want to know why are they taking a break. White House officials are saying, 'Look, he will be hard at work on this jobs plan while he's here on Martha's Vineyard,' Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Well, on the shallow side, Kristen, do you have any idea what he and the First Family plan to do while they're spending this time on Martha's Vineyard? I'm going to venture a guess there will be golf and ice cream, if past vacations are any indication.

WELKER: I think you're right – I think you're absolutely right about that, Savannah. I think there's going to be golf, I think there's going to be ice cream. We've passed some really good-looking cupcake shops as well. So I bet there are going to be some cupcakes and some swimming time with his family.

A little bit of a fun fact, by the way, Savannah, about presidential vacations. You know, the President's gotten a lot of criticism. Well, the unofficial White House historian, Mark Knoller, who works with CBS News radio, kind of took a look at all the presidential vacations. It turns out President Obama has actually taken fewer vacation days than some of his predecessors. He's taken 61 vacation days at this point in his presidency. George W. Bush had taken 180 vacation days and Ronald Reagan had taken 112. Clinton, fewer, he's down in the 20s. So a fun fact there from Mark Knoller, someone I know you know very well also, Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Indeed. And as you know, that the vacation is always a little bit, has air quotes around it, because I'll just give you a warning, Kristen, from one White House correspondent to another, some crisis always seems to happen and it ends up being a lot of work for all concerned. Kristen Welker on Martha's Vineyard awaiting the President's arrival later today. Kristen, good to see you. Thank you.

WELKER: Thanks, Savannah.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC