Image: President Obama on vacation
Carolyn Kaster  /  AP
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama leave Nancy's Restaurant in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Sunday, Aug. 21.
updated 8/21/2011 11:51:39 PM ET 2011-08-22T03:51:39

In between briefings on Libya, President Barack Obama packed golf, beach time, a stop at a seafood restaurant and a visit to a wealthy friend's seaside compound into his Martha's Vineyard vacation Sunday.

Meanwhile, across the globe, rebels stormed into Tripoli as Moammar Gadhafi's hold on power crumbled.

Story: Moammar Gadhafi launches fightback in Tripoli; sons detained

Obama monitored events closely even as he engaged in a heavy schedule of summertime activities under mostly sunny skies. As crowds gathered in Tripoli's Green Square, Obama was buying seafood at a popular restaurant.

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When reporters asked him for his reaction on Libya, he said he'd have one when events became clearer.

Obama then headed to adviser Valerie Jarrett's house for what the White House billed as dinner — only later revealing that he held a conference call there with a battery of top advisers.

The president and his aides were also drafting a statement that the White House released about 90 minutes later. It called on Gadhafi to relinquish power, and said, "The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator."

The developments illustrated what the White House has been saying about Obama's vacation: He's still focused in his job as president.

Earlier, Obama spent about an hour at the home of Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts after playing golf with some buddies. The golf foursome included Obama's Chicago pal Eric Whitaker, UBS America executive Robert Wolf and a White House aide. Obama spent the morning at the beach with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia.

Sunday was Obama's third full day on Martha's Vineyard. He is scheduled to return to Washington on Saturday.

In between briefings on Libya, President Barack Obama packed golf, beach time, a stop at a seafood restaurant and a visit to a wealthy friend's seaside compound into his Martha's Vineyard vacation Sunday.

Meanwhile, across the globe, rebels stormed into Tripoli as Moammar Gadhafi's hold on power seemed to crumble.

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Video: Obama: Tripoli slipping from grasp of tyrant

  1. Closed captioning of: Obama: Tripoli slipping from grasp of tyrant

    >>> white house officials say even though the president is vacationing in martha 's vineyard, he is tapped into the developments taking place in libya . nbc's kristen welker is traveling with the president, joining us now from martha 's vineyard. kristen , obviously, as the president travels, the white house travels with him.

    >> reporter: absolutely. hi there, thomas. well, a white house official tells us that president obama was indeed briefed on the situation in libya earlier today, that the united states is in close contact with its allies, continues to believe that gadhafi is in his final days there in libya . in the meantime, the white house also continues to insist that this is a working vacation for the president. the only sign of the president on martha 's vineyard saturday, his motorcade leaving a private social event in oak bluffs . a white house official says earlier, mr. obama was briefed on the unfolding situation in libya and on the two american hikers jailed in iran. in his weekly address taped in illinois during last week's midwest bus tour, the president kept up the pressure on congress, urging them to pass bills which he argues could help jump-start the economy.

    >> the only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in congress to put country ahead of party. that's the problem we have right now. that's what's holding this country back.

    >> reporter: in the republican response, ohio governor john kasich fired back.

    >> so, when i hear the president and his allies in washington say we need more spending and higher taxes, it is a real cause for concern.

    >> reporter: and there were also fireworks on the campaign trail. texas governor rick perry stumped in the early voting state of south carolina , where he dug in his heels on recent controversial comments, including questioning the validity of global warming .

    >> i just happen to believe that, you know, the earth's temperature has been moving up and down for millenniums now.

    >> reporter: and he defended his charge that fed chairman ben bernanke 's monetary policies have been treasonist. perry said if he rattled some in his own party, so be it.

    >> the american people are really concerned and scared, small businessmen and women are frightened about the monetary policy or the lack thereof with this administration.

    >> reporter: but his republican rivals tried to capitalize on perry 's unabashed style. former utah governor jon huntsman , who has been trailing in a number of polls, took a swipe at perry on twitter, saying "to be clear, i believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming . call me crazy." minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann also barn-stormed in south carolina , trying to broaden her appeal.

    >> we are going to make the case that we're the unifying candidate who can beat obama!

    >> reporter: but political analysts say this race will be centered around one issue, the economy, and will likely be a referendum on the person who currently holds the job.

    >> if the economy is as bad as it is now, and if people are as unhappy with the president and his performance as they are now, it's going to be very difficult for the president to be re-elected. it's as simple as that.

    >> reporter: and if you think the race is heated now, it's really going to ramp up after labor day . now, as for the president, he is currently at the beach with his family, we are told. white house officials also tell us at this point in time, he is not expected to release a statement about libya today. thomas.

    >> kristen welker in martha 's vineyard, thank you.


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