December 27th, 2011
02:07 PM ET
As his Republican rivals criss-cross a chillyIowa landscape this week, President Obama is in vacation mode –spending time with his family including hiking, golfing with friends and visiting troops in his native Hawaii. But he is keeping a noticeably low profile.
The White House reminds this is a working vacation as the president each day receives his daily briefing and advisors follow domestic and world developments. The administration is also presumably preparing the president's State of the Union address to Congress which is set for January 24th.
The president's holiday vacation was delayed just days before Christmas in his last interaction with Congress when House Republicans "blinked" and voted to extend the payroll tax cut another two months ending a stalemate with the White House.
But we are seeing very few photo opportunities of the president enjoying the balmy Hawaiian breezes.
Monday the TV travel pool followed the commander-in-chief to the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay as the president headed to the gym for a workout. No pics were allowed as the pool was held in a nearby McDonalds.
Later the president, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia, along with un-named friends went on a hike in Oahu at the Lanikai World War II "pillboxes" which are actually abandoned bunkers. TripAdvisor, an internet travel review website describes the hike as not-to-be-missed with "spectacular" views of the many beaches in the area. But reporters following the president wouldn't be privy to those spectacular views or opportunities to see the hikers since the travel pool of reporters were "held" at a nearby park.
The pictures TV viewers did see this week was of the president and first lady greeting troops and their families at a local Marine base on the island on Christmas Day.
But what made the video go viral was the baby in the photo op. As the president posed with Marine Captain Greg Wagner and his wife Meredith, 8 month old Cooper Wall Wagner squirmed in the president's arms then put his entire right hand into the presidential mouth. A laughing Obama kept smiling.
Kissing babies is a mainstay on the campaign trail but it's rare to get this close to the president of theUnited States.
The Obama's will spend the rest of this week in Hawaii returning to Washington after the New Year.