The Obamas' Vacation: Not So Low-Key After All

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Alex Brandon / AP

Obama in Hawaii

Four full days into his Hawaii vacation, Barack Obama went to Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay on Monday for his usual 50-minute workout and made a brief stop at the Kailua Racquet Club, a 72-year-old club that was established as a private hideaway amid a forest but is now in the middle of a residential neighborhood. (He may have played tennis with the First Lady, but that has not been confirmed.) Then the President put on a suit coat — but no tie — as he faced the nation to talk about the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day.

"We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us," the President said. "It's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism." He also noted, "We do not yet have all the answers about this latest attempt, but those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will ... do more than simply strengthen our defenses."

As his brief statement to reporters made clear, President Obama really cannot take a holiday, even in when he goes home to Hawaii. (Or avoid causing apprehension. Later on Monday Obama caused concern when he interrupted a golf game to rush back to his rented residence on Kailuana Place in Kailua, which is on the opposite side of the island of Oahu from Honolulu. An ambulance was seen rushing toward the home as well. The child of a family friend had suffered an injury.)

Since he arrived on Christmas Eve, President Obama has kept a low profile. He played golf on a military course, and watched the waves at a popular bodysurfing beach called Pyramid Rock. The President's children were treated to shave-ice treats on Saturday at Island Snow — the same store the President visited with his daughters last Christmas.

On Sunday night, as he headed for dinner at swanky Alan Wong's, Obama's motorcade drove past Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, the hospital where he was born, as well as the Baskin-Robbins where he held his first job as a teenager. Pool reports noted that Obama's motorcade was larger than normal, halting traffic along his route. Hawaii residents aren't used to visitors like this, but they coped with the disruption; in some cases motorists simply turned off their engines while waiting for the President to pass through.

While the Obamas were at dinner, a security barrier was set up outside the restaurant. But it didn't inconvenience diners at nearby restaurants too badly, says Janice Respicio, a manager of Gyotaku Japanese restaurant. "We had traffic in front, but not too bad," Respicio says. "But we were pretty busy."

Residents living along the street where the first family is staying say that, all in all, having the President stay there hasn't been too disruptive. "How many people can actually say that they had the President staying on your street?" says Ember Shinn, a resident of Kailuana Place. "You get to be a minor celebrity."

Another bonus, Shinn says, is that she gets the advantage of heightened security, with Secret Service agents and two checkpoints on her street. "You do feel safer because hardly anyone can come around," she says. "But I feel sorry for the people living on the canal [that runs through the residential area] because there are gun boats revving up [there] in the mornings."