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PolitiFact.com | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

Obama has taken less vacation time than Bush did

The statement

Says President Barack Obama "has taken 92 days of vacation since he was sworn in," compared with 367 for President George W. Bush at the same point in his presidency.

Al Sharpton, Aug. 9 on MSNBC's PoliticsNation

The ruling

As President Barack Obama began a vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, social media and blogs buzzed with details of Obama's vacations, past and present.

One of his defenders was the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts PoliticsNation on MSNBC.

Sharpton said, "We all love summer traditions, fireworks, barbecues, the beach. And we're seeing the return of a right-wing favorite — attacking the president's vacation."

Sharpton told viewers Obama "has taken 92 days of vacation since he was sworn in. How many did President (George W.) Bush take by the same point in his presidency? Three hundred and sixty-seven. Yes, more than a full year of vacation."

We wondered whether Sharpton was right.

An MSNBC spokeswoman pointed to a story in USA Today. The article says, "At the same point in Bush's presidency, the 43rd president had spent 367 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and his parent's compound at Kennebunkport, Maine, according to a count by CBS News reporter Mark Knoller. Obama, who doesn't own a vacation home, has spent a total of 92 days of his presidency on vacation, according to Knoller."

Tweets by Knoller himself back that up. On the eve of Obama's departure for Martha's Vineyard, Knoller tweeted that "since taking office, Pres Obama has taken 14 vacation trips spanning all or part of 92 days." Knoller also tweeted that "at the same point in office, Pres. GWBush had made 50 visits to (his) Texas Ranch totaling all or part of 323 days."

Another 26 of Bush's vacation days are accounted for by trips to Kennebunkport, with 18 days on vacation at miscellaneous locations, according to Knoller's data. Trips to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland are not included in either president's figures.

It's worth noting that there was a difference in the two presidents' patterns of vacations. As the USA Today article noted, Obama doesn't own a vacation home, unlike Bush, who owned his ranch. So while Bush essentially used the ranch as a working White House, Obama has traveled to a variety of destinations, including his native Hawaii. Because of this, the government may have been able to accrue some per-trip cost savings for Bush by going repeatedly to one location. But since the White House is traditionally tight-lipped about costs and security details for presidential travel, it's impossible to know how the total cost of Bush's travel compares with Obama's.

We rate the statement Mostly True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Obama has taken less vacation time than Bush did 08/16/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 4:34pm]
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