(WASHINGTON) — While President Obama stays in rainy Washington trying to hammer out a deal on the payroll tax cut extension, his wife and daughters are 5,000 miles away in sunny Kailua, Hawaii. The first lady and her daughters arrived on the island last Friday, expecting that the president would soon join them.
But with the stalemate in Congress, the Obamas could be vacationing separately this year.
The Obama family tradition of spending the holidays in the president’s home state started long before he came to the White House. Every Christmas, they visited his grandmother “Toot,” who raised Obama from age 10. She died two days before he won the presidential election in 2008.
Since Obama took office, the first family has stayed in a multi-million dollar five-bedroom estate on Kailua beach, ranked the island’s best stretch of sand and a favorite of Hawaiian royalty. The first lady’s spokesperson would not comment on their activities, saying that this was a “private vacation,” but the girls were spotted in the small surf town having their nails done at a local salon.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president has not set a date for his departure from the capital.
“It is a very fluid situation,” Carney said. “It’s hard to know what tomorrow is going to look like, what the next day is going to look like, as this saga continues.”
“I know the president wants to see his daughters and his wife,” he said. “But right now, we’re focused on urging Congress to do the right thing.”
While he waits, the president has been getting some of his holiday shopping done. He stopped at mall in Alexandria, Va., with a trip to Best Buy, where he bought the Nintendo Wii video game Just Dance 3, telling reporters, “This is for the girls.” He later joked that reporters would never get a picture of him playing the game.
He also went to PetSmart, purchasing a rubber chew toy for Bo.
But will he give his daughters their gifts in person? That’s a question Obama can’t yet answer.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Tal Kopan and Evan Perez, CNN