HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama has Hawaiian vacation plans for plenty of private time with his family, walks on the beach, rounds of golf and leisure reading.
But a high-speed police chase that went through a security checkpoint near the neighborhood where the president is staying was one more reminder of how hard it is for the president to truly get away from it all.
Officials say the incident was unrelated to the president’s visit and never posed a threat to the first family.
Obama has no public events scheduled during his 11-day vacation and he began his vacation Thursday with a familiar routine during his trips to Hawaii — a morning workout at a gym at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and a round of golf with longtime friends.
On the president’s reading vacation reading list: “President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime,” Lou Cannon’s biography of the Republican president.
WATCH NBC NIGHTLY NEWS COVERAGE OF OBAMA’S VACATION:
But the president’s vacation won’t be all rest and relaxation.
He was to be briefed by advisers daily, and he also planned to spend time working on his State of the Union address, scheduled in January, and a staff review headed by interim chief of staff Pete Rouse.
Obama spoke by phone Thursday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and one topic was the Senate’s ratification of a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms pact. The White House said Obama, while in Hawaii, may also sign the 9/11 first responders health care bill that Congress passed this week.
Security near Obama’s home was briefly heightened Thursday afternoon when a man led officers on the high-speed chase. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the man was arrested a short time later.
Honolulu police said the chase began after officers went to a Kailua home to arrest the man on five warrants for alleged driving violations and he fled. The chase continued on nearby roads until he was stopped. Police said officers used a stun gun to subdue him when he refused to get out of his vehicle.
The president was golfing at the time of the incident.
Christmas in Hawaii has become a family tradition for the Obamas, who were spending their third straight year in Kailua.
Obama delayed his departure this year while Congress wrapped up its lame-duck session. He also was forced to delay his departure last December due to action on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers worked until Christmas Eve to pass his signature health care overhaul legislation.
At the time, Obama spokesman Bill Burton told reporters traveling to Hawaii with Obama that the president’s Christmas wish for the press corps was to “relax and to not anticipate any public announcements or news-making events.”
It wasn’t to be.
Last Christmas Day, a 23-year-old Nigerian man allegedly attempted to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit. The incident consumed Obama’s vacation, with the president receiving thrice-daily updates from the White House Situation Room and national security staffers briefing reporters, often at a moment’s notice.
On Obama’s first extended presidential vacation, an August 2009 trip to Martha’s Vineyard, news of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s death required Obama to leave the island for the senator’s funeral. Also while on Martha’s Vineyard, Obama renominated Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman.
Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy and Associated Press photographer Chris Carlson contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.