In the wake of the BP oil spill, both President Obama and First Lady Michelle have made separate trips to Florida
to encourage tourists to visit -- with Mrs. Obama delivering a speech Tuesday on a still pristine beach. For their own vacations, the First Family is heading to Maine this weekend and likely will return to Martha's Vineyard for an extended stay in August.
The Obamas arrived Friday at Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, with the family flying to the Bar Harbor Airport. They return to Washington on Sunday.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at Wednesday's briefing why the Obamas chose Maine -- home to two GOP senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, being wooed to vote on the pending financial regulations overhaul bill.
"I think the First Family enjoyed immensely the trip out West last year. . . . I remember going on that trip, and you're obviously struck by the beauty of our national park system. This builds off of that in Maine," he said.
Asked what the Obamas will be doing, Gibbs said, "I think you'll see hiking and I think you'll see them spend a lot of time outside."
And did Collins or Snowe encourage them to go there?
Gibbs said, "I would hope that that was probably the case. I know he talked to both of them to let them know he would be coming."
So far in the summer of 2010, the Obamas spent a long Memorial Day weekend in Chicago and traveled to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for a few days before returning to the White House for July 4 celebrations. And Mrs. Obama took daughters Sasha and Malia and her mother, Marian Robinson, to Los Angeles for a vacation in June.
While the August vacation plans have not been announced, West Wing sources told Politics Daily the family enjoyed their visit last August to Martha's Vineyard and are very likely to return again this summer.
Mrs. Obama's Tuesday trip to Panama City Beach and her husband's trip to Pensacola last month had similar messages: Tourists can still find plenty to do in Florida, and many areas are not impacted by the oil spill still gushing in the Gulf of Mexico.
On Tuesday, Gibbs was asked why the First Family was not vacationing in the Sunshine State after encouraging other people to go.
"Look," he answered, "the key is, for the First Lady and for everybody that travels there -- I have friends that e-mailed me also from Panama City that they had been down just this past week and not seen oil, not dealt with oil on the beach. And I think sometimes the pictures have led people to believe that oil may be where they were planning on vacationing.
"And I think the First Lady's message and the message of a lot of people has been that the Gulf is -- having vacationed there myself -- is a beautiful place and it's open for business."