Obama takes break from rancorous health care debate

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama left the White House on Friday for a 10-day vacation, taking with him the beloved family dog and leaving behind an acrimonious debate about a proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Obama left the White House's South Lawn by Marine helicopter early in the afternoon for the presidential retreat at Maryland's Camp David. He and his family then head on Sunday morning to Massachusetts' Martha's Vineyard, where they will stay at a private 28-acre estate that rents for $35,000 a week. They are expected to keep mostly to themselves.

"I think he's going to spend a decent part of his time relaxing with his family," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "There are no official events scheduled in the week ahead. I anticipate that he'll play golf a number of times."

But will he play golf with Tiger Woods, as rumored?

"I have no idea if he's going to golf with Tiger Woods," Gibbs demurred in the briefing room; the president simply flashed a grin and said as he strode across the South Lawn that he planned to play a lot of golf.

RAMADAN MESSAGE: Obama on Friday cast U.S. military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of his drive to forge a new relationship between America and the Muslim world. He made the comments in a video message to Muslims getting ready for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins today in most of the Islamic world. In Egypt, fruit sellers have named their best dates — a traditional food for Ramadan — after Obama in a sweet tribute his outreach.

FAST FACTS

What did he say?

President Barack Obama puzzled people Thursday when he said, "There's something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up." The White House offered a translation Friday: Folks are wetting the bed over the health care debate. "I think wee-weed up is when people just get all nervous for no particular reason," press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Obama takes break from rancorous health care debate 08/21/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 21, 2009 11:44pm]

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