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Michelle Obama, Sasha on Lavish Vacation While President Turns 49

5 years ago
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Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha, 9, left President Barack Obama to celebrate his 49th birthday Wednesday without them -- they are vacationing at a lavish resort in Spain.

The first lady and her entourage landed at Malaga, on Spain's Mediterranean coast, at 10:30 a.m. local time Wednesday. There is enormous interest in the trip -- her arrival was well covered and news outlets set up camp in Marbella, where she is staying on her latest summer vacation.

While the White House is not disclosing details on the "private" trip, it's impossible for the first lady to travel and not be noticed. Mrs. Obama was photographed motoring with Sasha (Malia, 12, is at overnight camp) from the Malaga airport to the five-star Hotel Villa Padierna, part of the Ritz Carlton chain, on what is known as Spain's Costa del Sol.

Michelle Obama, Spain VacationMrs. Obama and Sasha were invited for an "official" visit with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia during their stay -- expected to last about four days. Spain's royal couple happen to be vacationing at their summer palace on the island of Majorca, and Mrs. Obama is likely to join them there.

English and Spanish news outlets are carrying pictures of a banner welcoming the visitors; it says, in English, "Thank you for choosing Marbella."

"We are really amazed about her choosing our hotel and coming down to the south of Spain, paying us such a wonderful visit at the best time of the year," Alicia Villapadierna told CNN. Her husband is the co-owner of the hotel. Click play below to watch CNN's video report from Spain:

The first lady is traveling with a small number of friends, who arrived on their own. While Mrs. Obama pays for her personal expenses, taxpayers pick up the costs of three shifts of Secret Service details and other security and support staffers, plus most costs associated with her Air Force plane.

With the rest of his family away from the White House, President Obama jets to Chicago on Wednesday afternoon to mark his birthday with a small circle of friends and spend the night at his home on Chicago's South Side. I'm told that Obama may dine at a favorite Chicago restaurant with his pals. The president was last home, with his family, over the Memorial Day weekend.

The main purpose of his return to Chicago is to headline three fundraisers on Thursday, generating more than $2 million to benefit the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senate campaign of Alexi Giannoulias. Obama will also tour a Ford plant that is thriving, part of his administration's effort to highlight the rebound of the U.S. auto industry.

Mrs. Obama's Spain vacation is one of eight she is taking this year. She has no official duties in August, and whether she will jump on the campaign trail to help Democrats in the November midterms is still up in the air, frustrating Democrats who could use her popularity to help them in fundraising.

She is now at a world-renowned resort while the jobless rate is high and the economy is still struggling. By doing so she is tempting a backlash. Mrs. Obama is highlighting the beauty of Spain's Mediterranean coast before her weekend visit to Florida's coast later this month to encourage tourism in areas not impacted by the BP oil spill.

The East Wing argues that Mrs. Obama is not an elected official and, as a private citizen, is free to focus on her family and friends. Still, what she does will be perceived by the public one way or another -- the East Wing has to know that. Mrs. Obama has gone to great lengths so far to avoid any controversy in her tenure and as a result has popularity ratings in every poll much higher than her husband's.

She and her family and friends started the New Year in Hawaii, the president's native state, which the Obamas try to visit each year. Since then, Mrs. Obama has had, or will have, some quality vacation travel. The 2010 list:

1. March: Over spring break, Mrs. Obama, her daughters and mother, Marian Robinson, visited New York with friends and took in some Broadway shows.

2. Memorial Day: a weekend trip home to Chicago.

3. June: Mrs. Obama, her girls and her mother flew to Los Angeles for sightseeing.

4. July: A Camp David visit (though the presidential retreat can be considered an extension of the White House).

5. July: A weekend in Maine, sightseeing in Acadia National Park, part of an Obama plan to showcase national parks.

6. Aug. 4-7: Spain.

7. Aug. 14: A first family weekend planned on the Florida Gulf coast. The first couple have been trying to draw tourists to the area in the wake of the BP disaster.

8. Aug. 19-29 The first family will vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

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multi-millionairs he gets 400k per year and every perk known to man. They could have went to the Gulf Coast as show of good faith to the people they are so concerned about. Probally would of had a better time. Very tacky move.

August 07 2010 at 12:20 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Janet's comment

Janet, I agree!

August 11 2010 at 6:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Very tacky move. No one faults a personal vacation...Obamas PAY FOR IT YOURSELF. Obamas are multi-millionairs they can't charter a private jet. Why should they when they can have their vacation on tax payers. Obama makes $400k salery per year as President with every perk known to man. They could have gone to the Gulf Coast as a show of good faith with all the fake concern for the least could have faked it. Probally would of had a better time. Just very tacky.

August 07 2010 at 12:14 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

ladies and gentlemen.. didn't this past republican convention take place in hawaii?.. and didn't they use not only taxpayers hard earned money, but donations to their party as well to fund their trip (security, flights, hotels, extravagant food, etc.) for over 150+ people. wow.. no one really made a big deal about that and had the gall to call that a misappropriation of funds. let's just face the facts here.. nothing the obamas do will ever go without criticism. they could cure aids and instead of being celebrated as the people that changed the human race, they'll be referred to as the individuals that bankrupted an industry. this is america and our people are bias through politics, race, religion, and social class.. but hey, the good news is that anyone can live here w/o being persecuted on the surface, we'll just subtly let you know u're not really accepted.. but u can live here, so thats a plus right;)

August 07 2010 at 10:59 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

i hope they have a good vacation ew all have things to complain about but look at this way secret service is being payed one way or other so why pick on them wen its tough enough not being able to be like other people who go out and go to store and just be normal all of htis stuff comes with being the first family leave them alone ther just normal people just having fun with her daughter

August 07 2010 at 7:49 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

hmm.... she is in Spain during his Birthday.... what? she sent out a huge email for all supporters of the President to sign his birthday card and attend a local gathering party and she heads to Spain... Michelle, I am highly disaapointed...

August 06 2010 at 11:47 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

So many haters. Jealousy's got so many of you bound and it overpowering you. Sleep my children, rest peacefully, you can't change of thing 'it is what it is'. LOL!

August 06 2010 at 4:15 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to True's comment

NO, we can change it. We are SUPPOSED to have a democratic nation. It has been a very long time since we have had the benefit of exercising our rights granted by a democratic nation. Sitting back and saying "it is what it is" is accepting defeat before the battle begins. I gues you have a very comfortable, home, a secure job even a car; but if you had to work 16 hours a week just to pay rent, pay bill, etc., you would be so relaxed. That is one of the great dichotomies of this nation. No helps anyone else. No one has a sence of civil or community responsibility. Since grad school I was taught that a democracy is a "govenment of the people, by the people and for the people." Wait until the clouds blow over your house and your life is affected, I bet you'll be whistling a different tune then.

August 07 2010 at 9:38 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

are you kidding? this is the 1st lady of the United States of America. She can't take a luxurious vacation? gimmee a break people.

August 06 2010 at 3:33 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to zanish's comment

It would be a different issue if she was paying for it completely on her own. But she is not. She is using federal taxpayer dollars for this vacation. and she isn't using a private jet, she used an Air Force plane. I'm not against her taking a vacation, but I am against her taking a vacation with MY money.

August 06 2010 at 4:08 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

She cannottake a vacation unless she is on a Air Force Jet provided to her. She is the First Lady of the U.S. who will always have security fo rthe resat of her life, and will travel with security and a military secret service. How can anyone not know this? All President's & their wives have always done this. You don't have a choice. Now I am so glad she is enjoying herself, and hope she travels to Europe more, with her daughter's and her mother too! Enjoy your life Michelle! What a great experience for Malia!

August 07 2010 at 1:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

It's not a private trip if it's funded by public money.

August 05 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse +16 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to hockeydc's comment

Life is good in that White House. Eight vacations. Imagine that. To think some of us are having a hard time holding onto our houses.

August 05 2010 at 3:21 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply
Kristi Black

Well, I do believe that we all deserve to vacation as it's simply healthy for the mind and body, yet the reality is that many normally hard working people in the USA can't even afford to keep their homes, cars, and standard of living anymore! Food and basic essentials are now a luxury for many as the unemployment rate continues to climb and the economy continues to plumment despite what President Obama claims! Also, I've been fortunate to travel abroad extensively during better economic times, and can tell you that many European Country's literally abhor Americans and Spain is certainly one of them! Our own country is in desperate need of commerce and deserving of loyalty from our own citizens ecspecially at this critical time! Although, I may not alway's be proud to be an American, I'm alway's eternally grateful to have been born one and I'm feeling increasingly sentimental and loyal towards the greatest Country on the planet and in history!

August 05 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse +20 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kristi Black's comment

Kristi in Spain does not hate Americans, About Michelle Obama we have given the best welcome we can. We have also had security spending. But it was our duty to do. Also welcome the American people want to visit. Greetings from southern Spain. (Sorry for my english)

August 08 2010 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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