Skift Take

Vacations can turn political very quickly, especially when both childhood experiences are so different and personal fortuns are separated by hundreds of millions of dollars (to say nothing of roof-bound dogs in kennels).

Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: Peter Foster

Barack Obama spent his childhood holidays riding Greyhound buses and staying in cheap motels where the biggest thrill was running to the vending machines for a snack, he recalled while campaigning.

The depiction of Mr Obama’s ordinary upbringing was intended to contrast sharply with that of Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent, who was photographed this week riding a jet ski and playing volleyball with his sons near his $8m shorefront home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

“Maybe you took a vacation every once in a while. It wasn’t some fancy vacation at some fancy resort,” Mr Obama recalled, adding that the “best vacation I had when I was a kid” was riding on trains and buses and staying at the reasonably priced Howard Johnson hotels.

“I was 11, so there was any kind of swimming pool … it was very exciting,” Mr Obama said during a campaign stop in Poland, Ohio. “You were very excited to go where the vending machine was and the ice machine and get the ice.” Mr Romney, the former head of Bain Capital who has a personal fortune of $250m, has been fighting against efforts by the Obama campaign to stereotype him as an out-of-touch elitist with no understanding of the difficulties facing ordinary middle class Americans.

Since his election, Mr Obama, has himself vacationed in Martha’s Vineyard and in Hawaii, but accused Mr Romney of only looking out for the interests of the rich after he rejected Mr Obama’s own populist plan to increase taxes for millionaires.

Mr Romney, who made a series of gauche remarks during the Republican primary campaign which appeared to show him having little no concept of his own wealth relative to ordinary Americans, was also attacked from the Right this week for failing to connect with voters.

In a blistering editorial citing Mr Romney’s “jet ski cameo”, the Republican-supporting Wall Street Journal accused Mr Romney of running an inept campaign that was “letting down” those who were backing him to remove Mr Obama from the White House in November.

Breaking off from his own family holiday yesterday, Mr Romney said the latest US job numbers which showed unemployment still at 8.2 per cent, were a “kick in the gut” for American workers, and promised more holidays if he was elected.

“I’m delighted to be able to take a vacation with my family,” he said at a press conference, “I hope that more Americans are able to take vacations, and if I’m president of the United States I’m going to work very hard to make sure we have good jobs for all Americans who want good jobs, and as part of a good job the capacity to take a vacation now and then with their loved ones.”

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