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Obama leaves Washington for summer vacation

(Xinhua)

08:51, August 19, 2011

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday left the White House for a nine-day summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, but officials said he will remain engaged in government affairs.

Obama took off Thursday afternoon aboard Air Force One, the presidential jet. He was accompanied by John Brennan, the White House homeland security chief.

Obama left the beltway as the stock market plunged, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 419.63 points. The new fall was sparked by a Morgan Stanley report warning that global growth was slowing and that the United States and Europe were on the precipice of new recession.

Josh Earnest, the deputy press secretary, told reporters Obama will remain engaged on economy policy throughout the vacation, meeting with advisors and preparing for his jobs speech after Labor Day.

"Over the course of his time in Martha's Vineyard, he will be getting updates from his economic team," Earnest said, adding next week, Brain Deese, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, will travel to Martha's Vineyard "to provide regular updates and briefings for the president."

Earnest said Brennan will be in Martha's Vineyard for the duration of Obama's stay, and "he'll be providing regular updates to the president to ensure that he's properly briefed on national security issues."

Obama's vacation at a time of economic peril for many Americans has raised some eyebrows. Earnest said Obama "understands that he has important responsibilities to fill, and it's his job to fill those responsibilities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," but he also said he didn't think "the American people would begrudge the president spending a little time with his wife and daughters."

As for Obama's time on the island, Earnest said vacation activities would be similar to those of previous years, such as spending time with family, golfing, going out for ice cream and bicycle rides.

Upon returning to Washington D.C. on Aug. 27, Obama will deliver remarks on Aug. 28 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial dedication on the National Mall. The day will mark the 48th anniversary of the historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

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