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Golf, hikes and sea turtles fill Obama's Hawaii vacation time

December 27, 2011|By Peter Nicholas
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster )

Reporting from Honolulu — It’s too early to say whether President Obama has the upper hand in campaign 2012, but the verdict is in on one point: Obama is having the more relaxing week.

As the Republican presidential field jockeys for advantage in the final days before the Iowa caucuses, the Obamas move from one really fun sun-splashed outing to the next.

Tuesday found the first family releasing four green sea turtles into Hanauma Bay. The turtles, each 18 months old, were born at Sea Life Park north of the bay.

The bay is closed on Tuesdays for routine maintenance, giving the Obamas privileged access to a tourist spot famous for its spectacular snorkeling.

Afterward, First Lady Michelle Obama peeled off, and the president and his two daughters stopped to visit Sea Life Park.

“From swimming with dolphins and sea lions to sitting in on a penguin trainer talk -- from feeding sea turtles to diving with rays --  no other park gets you this close,’’ the park’s website boasts.

Obama, of course, paid his dues in Iowa four years ago, where he staked his long-shot campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton on a victory in the Democratic caucuses.

One advantage of running unopposed is he no longer has to trudge from Waterloo to Davenport in freezing temperatures. So, the president is filling his vacation days with rounds of golf, hikes, morning workouts and close encounters with green sea turtles.

It all ends Jan 2. Then it’s back to Washington and a resumption of payroll tax cut negotiations.

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