Obama in Colombia: ‘Part of My Job Is to Scout Out Where I May Want to Bring Michelle Back Later for Vacation’

Terence P. Jeffrey | April 15, 2012 | 3:15pm EDT
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President Barack Obama speaking on a panel in Cartagena, Colombia, on April 14, 2012 with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Just two days after President Barack Obama gave a sharply edged response to news anchor Larry Conners of KMOV in St. Louis after Conners had asked the president about Americans who “get frustrated and even angered when they see the first family jetting around [to] different vacations and so forth,” Obama told a panel at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia that part of his job there was to scout out locations for a future vacation with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Obama was speaking on a panel with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff when he made the remarks. The panel was moderated by Chris Matthews of MSNBC.

“I want to thank President Santos and the people of Colombia for the extraordinary hospitality in the beautiful city of Cartagena,” said Obama. “We're having a wonderful time. And usually when I take these summit trips, part of my job is to scout out where I may want to bring Michelle back later for vacation.  So we'll make sure to come back sometime in the near future.”

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Obama, the two other presidents, and Chris Matthews were sitting in white armchairs for the panel. Obama was wearing a blue blazer, but was not wearing a tie.

On Thursday, Obama had invited Larry Conners of KMOV to interview him one-on-one at the White House. Conners asked him—in an exchange picked up by The Blaze--about the perception he said some KMOV viewers had that the president and his family took multiple vacations.

"Some of our viewers are complaining they just don’t--they get frustrated and even angered, when they see the first family jetting around, different vacations and so forth, sometimes maybe they think under color of state business and that you're out of touch, that you don't really know what they're experiencing right now,” Conners told the president.

“"I don't know how many viewers you're talking about that say that,” said Obama.

"We do hear from some. Yes, sir," said Conners.

“I hear from all kinds of viewers about everything,” said Obama.

“I am sure you do,” said Conners.

"But the fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I'm raising a family here,” said Obama. “When we travel, we’ve got to travel through Secret Service and Air Force One. That's not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people."

Back on Feb. 21, Washington Secrets columnist Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reported that up to that point members of the First Family had taken 16 extended vacations during Obama’s presidency.

“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 for his 49th birthday in Chicago in 2010 and five by the first lady,” wrote Bedard. “Still, when compared to former President George W. Bush's 30 trips home to Texas at this stage of his presidency, the Obamas vacation-day count is less than half of Ws 220 days at his Crawford ranch.”

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