President Obama begins an eight-day vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Saturday, hoping to recharge his battery before tough fights over the budget and debt ceiling this fall.
It’s Obama’s first extended vacation since he visited Hawaii in December, and comes after a press conference scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Obama and his family will stay at the $7.6 million estate of donor and Chicago private equity executive David Schulte.
As is customary, the Obamas will personally pay for the rent of the oceanfront estate, while the federal government will pick up the majority of associated costs for travel, security and staff. The president and his family will be on the hook for the cost of food and equivalent commercial airfare to the exclusive Massachusetts enclave.
As is also customary, Republicans have criticized the president's decision to take the costly vacation, characterizing the cost as excessive and arguing the Obamas' trip was unseemly as many Americans remained unemployed.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) called the trip "tone deaf" in an interview with USA Today.
“Most of the people in my district could never afford to visit Martha's Vineyard, and those who could would feel uncomfortable vacationing in a place that has a reputation for being for the elite,” Stewart said.
Criticism of the president's travel might prove difficult for Republicans to level, however, with Congress in the midst of a five-week August recess.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the cost split of the trip was “in keeping with longstanding tradition, using the same formulas that have been in place, I’m sure, for administration after administration after administration.”
“Obviously, when you're president of the United States, you carry a little baggage when you travel,” Carney added.
He also scoffed at the suggestion by some Republicans that the president spends was spending too much time on vacation, or that his choice of Martha's Vineyard was too extravagant.
“I would just check what they said six years ago,” he said.
Carney also said the president would dedicate part of his day to briefings and work, even as Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, took to Twitter to tweak the White House for insisting that the president would be working constantly through the trip.
White House officials were particularly insistent that the vacation would not distract the president from the Middle East terror threat that has led the State Department to shutter nearly two dozen diplomatic posts and embassies across the region.
“He will be, of course, regularly updated on the current threat that we’ve discussed," Carney said. “He’ll be regularly updated on issues going on around the world and the country, but with any luck, he’ll also have some time to relax with his family.”
A poll released Thursday by Fox News suggests voters are more sympathetic of the president's need for a break.
According to the survey, voters were evenly split, 48 percent to 48 percent, on whether the president had been working long enough to take his weeklong vacation. But when voters were asked if Congress had been working hard enough to deserve taking the summer recess, only 14 percent said yes, with 82 percent of respondents saying no.
Some of the harshest criticism leveled Obama’s way could be from his neighbors on Martha’s Vineyard. According to the local paper, The Vineyard Gazette, locals there are upset that the president’s security detail plans to shut down a main road on the island that sits a short distance from the home the president will be staying in.
According to the paper, selectman Warren Doty told attendees at a town hall meeting the measures would “be very disruptive” and were “going to be a hassle.”
“It’s not as if they asked us what we thought,” he said.