WH: Americans Don't 'Begrudge Their President for Taking Some Downtime with His Family'

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | August 14, 2014 | 11:33 AM EDT

Americans don't mind Pres. Obama taking vacation during times of crisis, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters yesterday.

Asked to respond to criticism of Obama's vacations, Schultz noted that "the President is the President wherever he goes" and "there's never a perfect time for the president to take some time away" - and that Americans don't "begrudge their president for taking some downtime."

A transcript of Schultz's exchange with the reporter follows:

Q    Eric, what do you make of the criticism of the President being on vacation?  The Republican National Committee has put out a web video showing him playing golf, and that sort of thing, with all these foreign crises.  Has he had any second thoughts about whether this was a good idea to keep this vacation?

MR. SCHULTZ:  Jim, as you know, the President is the President wherever he goes.  He travels with a wide array of communications equipment, and we also travel with a staff that allows us to have robust operational capabilities.  In this trip, that includes his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice; his Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes; his Deputy Chief of Staff, Anita Breckenridge; and some very capable communications professionals.

Q    Has it felt like a vacation?

MR. SCHULTZ:  I think it's fair to say there are, of course, ongoing complicated situations in the world, and that's why you've seen the President stay engaged.  On Saturday, he spoke with Prime Minister Cameron, Prime Minister *President Hollande.  He gave an update from the South Lawn and took your questions.  While up here, he's spoken with Prime Minister Erdogan, President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Renzi.  The President also had multiple national security briefings.

So I think, as many have observed over the past few days, there's never a perfect time for the President to take some time away with his family.  But I think we can also all agree that it's valuable to recharge your batteries.  And I just don't think the American people begrudge their President for taking some downtime with his family.

Q    And one very quick follow.  Josh said last week that we might learn more about these in-person meetings that he might have.  Care to shed any light on what the President is going to be doing when he goes back and actually interrupts his vacation to go to Washington?

MR. SCHULTZ:  The President is still planning on returning to Washington on Sunday for meetings at the White House.  I don't have too much more detail about that.  We'll have more as the time comes.  I will say that the President will be meeting with Vice President Biden while he's back in Washington.

Q    Give us some indication, Eric -- will this formidable team the President has brought with him to Martha's Vineyard return with him to Washington for that brief session with advisors?

MR. SCHULTZ:  Some.  Some of us will be returning; some of us will be staying in lovely Martha's Vineyard.