President Barack Obama ended his golf-filled, oceanfront summer vacation Sunday, returning to Washington ahead of a trip early next month to China and Laos, and campaigning to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton as his successor.
Obama spent 16 days with his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha at Martha's Vineyard on the Atlantic Ocean shoreline in the northeastern state of Massachusetts, a favorite summertime retreat of wealthy Americans. He played numerous rounds of golf, his favorite athletic past-time, dined out often with family and friends and on Sunday went for a last-day-of-vacation hike with his wife.
Obama on Tuesday is heading to the flood-ravaged state of Louisiana in the southern party of the country, where 13 people have been killed by the raging waters and thousands left homeless. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Clinton's opponent in the November 8 presidential election, visited the state Friday.
While Obama made the worst affected parts of the state eligible for disaster-relief loans, his political critics scorned him for not interrupting his vacation to visit with people forced from their homes by days of rain and flooding. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Sunday during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" that his office advised the White House it would be better for Obama to visit after the immediate response to the flooding was over.
Federal emergency officials are among those offering assistance in what some say is the worst natural disaster in the United States since a tropical storm ravaged the northeastern part of the country four years ago.
Congress is still in the midst of a seven-week summer vacation. But when it returns after the September 5 Labor Day holiday, Obama plans to press lawmakers to fund efforts to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus, to keep it from spreading and to develop a vaccine. Fractious lawmakers could not agree on a Zika funding package before leaving Washington on their annual August break.
Obama heads to China and Laos from September 2 to 9, his 11th and likely his last trip to Asia before leaving office next January.
The American leader is planning to campaign extensively for Clinton, his first-term secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Obama has derided Trump, a brash real estate tycoon, as unqualified to become the U.S. leader.