Obama starts low-key holiday with trip to bookstore

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 19, 2011 2:44 PM
Obama starts low-key holiday with trip to bookstore

By Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis

VINEYARD HAVEN, Massachusetts (Reuters) - President Barack Obama took his daughters to a Martha's Vineyard bookstore on Friday on the first day of his vacation, where he is expected to keep a low profile.

They were greeted by applause and cheering from crowds on the main street in Vineyard Haven, a picturesque harbor village dotted with cupcake, jewelry, clothing and ice cream shops.

Obama, wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and sunglasses, shook the hands of about a dozen people after emerging from the Bunch of Grapes bookstore with Malia and Sasha.

The Democratic president is expected to lay low in Martha's Vineyard, an exclusive island near Cape Cod and Boston, amid concerns about his stewardship of the U.S. economy and signs of financial market distress.

He has been widely criticized for taking the vacation while some 14 million Americans remain out of work. But the White House says the public does not begrudge him spending some time with his family away from the spotlight.

A picture released by the White House earlier on Friday showed him sitting on an Adirondack-style chair at the farm estate where his family is staying, listening to a national security briefing from top adviser John Brennan.

Obama received a written update on the economy Friday. Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council, will travel to Martha's Vineyard next week to provide the president regular face-to-face briefings, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Earnest said on Thursday that Obama intends to spend part of his nine-day break in Martha's Vineyard working on a plan he will unveil in September to boost hiring and trim the deficits his Republican rivals are focused on ahead of the 2012 vote.

"He will be in touch over the course of the next nine days talking to his economic team about that speech ... making some policy decisions and preparing for that roll-out shortly after Labor Day," Earnest said.

He said the plan would build on already-announced ideas including patent reform, free trade deals and a payroll tax cut extension, with "some new ideas above and beyond that."

(Editing by Jerry Norton)