The Obama Vacation

As President Obama flew to Martha's Vineyard on Thursday afternoon, White House officials said he would be taking time from his summer break to focus on upcoming plans on jobs and the economy.

Here is the partial transcript of a Q&A with White House spokesman Josh Earnest from Air Force One:


      Q    Will the President be having daily economic briefings on this trip?  How will he be sort of monitoring the volatility in the markets, the situation in Europe?
     MR. EARNEST:  That's a good question.  Over the course of his time in Martha's Vineyard, he will be getting updates from his senior economic team.
     Next week, Brian Deese, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, will be traveling to Martha's Vineyard and will spend the week there next week.  And he'll be providing regular updates and regular briefings for the President.
     But in addition to that, we do anticipate that the President will be touching base with the team back home and to the extent that we're able to read out those calls, we'll try to give you some updates over the course of the week as he does that.
     Q    What is the White House reaction to the market swings today and the warnings from Morgan Stanley of a potential recession here and in Europe?
     MR. EARNEST:  Well, as you know, there have been a couple people who have stood on this spot and been asked questions about the markets.  And they've resisted the urge to comment or speculate on the changes in the markets, and I'm not going to be in a position to speculate on those either.
     Q    With the recession warning, is there a concern that the jobs package you've proposed in September will come too late to have any real effect?
     MR. EARNEST:   No.  What the President is going to put forward in September is a package of new ideas that builds on the ideas that we've already been talking about for some time, the kinds of ideas that have bipartisan support, including patent reform; we've talked about the trade agreements a little bit; the President has talked about this idea of extending the payroll tax cut for at least an additional year.
     And there are some new ideas above and beyond that that the President will -- looks forward to talking about in September because, as you pointed out, the -- job creation remains the top agenda on the -- or top item on the President's domestic agenda.  And so that's something that he continues to work on, and he looks forward to the opportunity to talk about those ideas in more detail after Labor Day.
     Q    Josh, what's your general reaction to some of the criticism about the President taking a vacation now?  Was there any consideration to canceling it or shortening it at all, given the state of the economy?
     MR. EARNEST:  No.  I mean, look, the President of the United States is the President of the United States wherever he goes.  That is -- that's the job that he ran for, that is what the American people expect, and it's the job that he's doing.
     You saw that John Brennan is traveling on Air Force One with us today.  Mr. Brennan, as the President's top counterterrorism advisor, is traveling on Air Force One, is going to be in Martha's Vineyard for the duration of the President's time there.  And the reason for that is he'll be providing regular updates to the President to ensure that he's properly briefed on national security issues.  I mentioned that Mr. Deese will also be in Martha's Vineyard doing the same thing on the economic side.
     So the President understands that he has important responsibilities to fill, and he -- it's his job to fill those responsibilities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 
     At the same time, he's also a husband and a father, and I don't think that the American people begrudge the President spending a little time with his wife and daughters at the end of the summer before his daughters head back to school.
     Q    How much time is he going to spend during the vacation working on his speech, the jobs speech?
     MR. EARNEST:  Well, I mentioned that the President will, over the course of our time in Martha's Vineyard, will be talking to his economic team, certainly Brian Deese, but other members of the economic team.  So I anticipate that this is something that they will continue to talk about. 
     Many of you saw on the President's schedule that he had a meeting with his senior economic team today in the Oval Office, where they talked about this a little bit as well.  So this policy process is ongoing.  And it is fair to say that he will be in touch over the course of the next nine days talking to his economic team about that speech, putting the policy -- making some policy decisions and preparing for that rollout shortly after Labor Day.

Q    Josh, the DNC is holding a fundraiser tonight on the Vineyard.  Does the President have any campaign-style events or fundraisers planned while he's on vacation this week?
     MR. EARNEST:  Not that I know of.
     Q    He's not going tonight?
     MR. EARNEST:  He's not.
     Q    On the vacation, is it going to be kind of like last year as far as he's mostly with his family, kind of golfing, et cetera?  And how much are we going to see him?  Do you have any guidance on that sort of --
     MR. EARNEST:  I think that's right.  I think the activities during this trip to Martha's Vineyard will be very similar to the activities from the last couple of years.  This is an opportunity for the President to spend a little time away from the spotlight with his wife and two daughters.  It's an opportunity for him to play golf, a hobby that he enjoys.  It's also an opportunity for him to do some of the other things that you've seen him do -- go out and get ice cream and ride bicycles. 
     I don't have a comprehensive itinerary for you, but those are the kinds of things that he's done in the past and we expect that he'll do again on this vacation. 
     Q    Any early thoughts on the format of the September speech?  Is it a primetime address or anything like that?
     MR. EARNEST:  Well, I do anticipate that over the nine days that -- the course of the next nine days that there will be a lot of legitimate questions like that that I'll be asked, but I will say now -- and I suspect it will become a common refrain -- that I don't at this point have any specifics about the content or timing of the post-Labor Day speech. 
     Anybody else?  Okay, all right.  Everybody enjoy the rest of the trip, and hopefully we'll have a quiet few days here. 
                               END               5:02 P.M. EDT

As President Obama flew to Martha's Vineyard on Thursday afternoon, White House officials said he would be taking time from his summer break to focus on upcoming plans on jobs and the economy. Here is the partial transcript of a Q&A with White House spokesman Josh Earnest from Air Force ...