White House spokesman Josh Earnest defended President Obama's weekend vacation in Key Largo, despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, arguing Obama would be able to monitor events from Florida.
“What the president will be doing this weekend in Florida is essentially what the president would be doing back at the White House. It's just that the weather will be a little warmer,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“If there is an opportunity for the president to enjoy some of those amenities, then he'll do that. What he will do, and what he is looking forward to doing, is getting a little downtime in the warm weather with his wife and daughters.”
Earlier this week, there was speculation the president could scrap the trip — his third vacation of the year — because of the crisis. But Earnest downplayed the suggestion, saying deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken is traveling to Florida with Obama, along with the “regular assortment of communication tools” allowing the president to attend secure briefings.
“We have complete confidence the president can handle all the responsibilities he has," Earnest said.
The White House spokesman also said it was not unusual for the president, vice president, secretary of State and national security adviser to all be out of the nation's capital. John Kerry and Susan Rice are traveling on business, while Vice President Biden is visiting the Virgin Islands for his second vacation there in three months.
“Most of the people you described have as their job description traveling overseas to represent the interests of the United States. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a fairly regular occurrence," Earnest said.