|Don't want oil on my feet, might interrupt my golf schedule ...|
President Barack Obama is finally doing what he’s been telling Americans to do all summer: He’s spending time with his family on the Gulf Coast.
His toe-dip of a visit is less a relaxing, presidential vacation than it is an all-inclusive business trip. In fewer than 27 hours in Panama City, Fla., Obama will meet with business owners about the lingering impact of the BP oil spill, deliver a speech at the U.S. Coast Guard office and star in a series of photo-ops intended to jolt to the region’s sagging tourism industry.
In fact, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs denied the visit was a “vacation” at all. “This was originally billed as, and continues to be billed as, highlighting the notion that a region of the country that is heavily dependent upon tourism is alive, well, and open for business,” he said in his daily briefing Friday.
For the White House, the image of the president, the first lady and their daughters on a Gulf Coast beach, showing the region is safe and clean, is the real keepsake of the trip. It’s what Florida officials have wanted for months. And while they would like the Obamas to get more than just a little sand in their shoes, they’ll take the one night they’re getting.
“I would love to have them stay a couple more days, but we’re just thankful they’re coming,” said Panama City Mayor Scott Clemons. “I just hope they spend some time on the beach.” (Continues here)