The Washington Times - December 8, 2011, 02:56PM

Under fire for planning a 17-day vacation in Hawaii over the holidays while the economy continues to sputter, President Obama Thursday pledged to stay in Washington until Congress passes a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extensions. 

“With respect to my vacation, I would not ask anybody to do something I’m not willing to do myself,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a Thursday briefing.

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“So I know some of you might have been looking forward to a little sun and sand, but the bottom line is — is that we are going to stay here as long as it takes to make sure that the American people’s taxes don’t go up on January 1st and to make sure that folks who desperately need unemployment insurance get that help.”

Earlier this week, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted Mr. Obama for planning such a long vacation in the sun and surf, where he would undoubtedly spend a lot of time golfing. 

“He told Congress that they need to stay in session and pass his tax breaks for the payroll tax and that they shouldn’t leave for vacation until they did that,” Mr. Romney said Monday night in a telephone call to a Cedar Rapids, Iowa town-hall meeting.

“And yet, he’s going off for 17 days and for golf in the sun and I just think it’s time to have a president whose idea of being ‘hands on’ doesn’t mean getting a better grip on the golf club.”

When asked about Mr. Romney’s comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney said he didn’t recall any complaints from Mr. Romney about President George W. Bush, who he said he believed spent “far more time on vacation than this president.”