President Obama plans to fly back to Washington, D.C., from his Hawaiian vacation Wednesday to continue fiscal-cliff negotiations with House Republicans in an attempt to strike a year-end budget deal and avoid automatic tax hikes and deep, across-the-board spending cuts that would otherwise kick in Dec. 31.
The first lady and the Obama daughters will remain in Hawaii.
While in Hawaii, the president and first lady took a break from their Christmas vacation to meet with service members and their families at Kaneohe Bay Marine Base near their vacation rentals in Kailua.
After spending a few minutes mingling with service members and their families dining in Anderson Hall, Mr. Obama thanked the troops for their continued sacrifice and service to the country.
“We do this every year. This is where I was born and so we come back for the holidays,” Mr. Obama said. “But one of our favorite things is always coming to the base on Christmas Day and having a chance to meet you, those of you who have families here, and to say thanks for the extraordinary work and service that you guys do each and every day.”
Mr. Obama said his greatest honor as president is serving as commander-in-chief of the military.
“And the reason it’s an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world, but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world,” he said. “And so many of you make sacrifices day in and day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security.”
He also gave a special word of thanks for military families and the sacrifices they make “each and every day.”
“Obviously, we’re still in a war-time footing — there are still folks as we speak who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day,” he said. “Some of you may have loved ones deployed there. But what we’d also like you to know is that you have an entire country behind you — that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary services you provide. And so we want to say thank you. We love you.”
The president and first lady then said they would stay long enough to take a photo with anyone who wanted one.