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Care reform delays Obama's visit


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

President Barack Obama will be home for Christmas, just a day later than originally thought.

Obama and the first family were originally scheduled to arrive in Hawaii today, but the president said he won't leave Washington until the Senate finishes work on the health care overhaul. A final vote is scheduled for 2 a.m. Hawaii time tomorrow on Capitol Hill.

“;My attitude is that if they're making these sacrifices to provide health care to all Americans, then the least I can do is to be around and provide them any encouragement and last-minute help where necessary,”; Obama said yesterday.

The Obamas could be here by tomorrow afternoon, although there was no official word on their plans.

Residents of the Kailua neighborhood where then President-elect Obama stayed last year said Secret Service agents have gone to all the neighbors and informed them of the security measures, they said.

“;We had to give a list of who we're having for Christmas,”; said Bernie Schneiderman. His wife, Sue Schneiderman, said, “;We're looking forward to them (the Obamas) returning.”;

“;It's nice having them come home,”; said Betsy Kobayashi. She said she didn't provide all her Christmas guests' names to the Secret Service, just the names of her children who are visiting from the mainland.

She said visitors will simply have to provide identification and she'll get a call from the Secret Service and give the OK.

Her daughter, Wendy Ching, a Punahou graduate, said, “;We're happy to have a schoolmate return home.”;

Bernie Schneiderman noted that this time, Obama's “;coming as the president and unfortunately a very threatened man.”;

Sue Schneiderman said, “;We want the security to be tight.”;

In Washington yesterday, during a visit to the Children's National Medical Center, the president's daughters, Malia and Sasha, were asked what the president would be getting for Christmas.

First lady Michelle Obama at first joked that she couldn't talk about her husband's present because her daughters, sitting beside her, would tell their father. But she relented and said: “;It's good. I got him sports stuff.”;

Sasha started to say what she and her sister got him, but the first lady interrupted.

“;It's something he likes,”; Sasha said.

Earlier yesterday, however, the president said in a radio interview that he and the first lady decided several years ago not to buy each other presents. He said the only Christmas presents he needs from his daughters are hugs.

The White House said the president plans no official public appearances while in Hawaii.

In two separate trips here last year, Obama went golfing at Olomana Golf Links, dined with Kaneohe Marines, enjoyed shave ice with his daughters and went body surfing at Sandy Beach.

In an interview on Urban Radio Network on Monday, the president was asked whether body surfing is a healthy thing to do.

“;It's a wonderful thing to do,”; Obama said. “;I grew up doing it, love the ocean. I'll admit to you that the Secret Service these days does not like me doing it. The last time I tried it, they had a bunch of people out on Jet Skis in the water and surrounding me with all kinds of stuff and it was a little distracting for the other swimmers. So I don't know if I'll get out there this year, but I tell you what, I will definitely be enjoying some sun.”;