PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — President Barack Obama declared Gulf Coast beaches clean, safe and open for business as he brought his family to the Florida Panhandle and promised residents that thegovernment wouldn't forget them once efforts to stop the leak are finished.
On a warm and muggy day, Obama pledged to "keep up our efforts until the environment is cleaned, polluters are heldaccountable, businesses and communities are made whole, and the people of the Gulf Coast are back on their feet."
Obama is in the region for a brief weekend trip with first lady Michelle Obama, daughterSasha (her sister Malia is at summer camp) and the family dog, Bo. Their 27-hour stop in the Sunshine State is as much a family vacation as it is an attempt by the president to convince Americans thatthis region, so dependent on tourism revenue, is safe for travel.
To reinforce that message, Obama and Sasha swam in the Gulf's waters on Saturday, and the White House released a photo of the highlyanticipated dip, which was away from the media's view.
Obama said his family planned to "enjoy the beach and the water — to let our fellow Americans know that they should come on down here."Arriving at their beachfront hotel, the first family ventured to Lime's Bayside Bar & Grill, where they relaxed on an outdoor deck overlooking the water and ate a lunch of fish tacos, chicken tendersand burgers.
The White House scheduled the trip after facing criticism that the president wasn't heeding his own advice that Americans vacation in the Gulf. Obama has vacationed in North Carolinathis summer and is heading to Martha's Vineyard, off the Massachusetts coast, later in August. Mrs. Obama also traveled to Spain this month with Sasha.
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Advertisement | ad infoAdvertisement | ad info.Gulf Coast residents and local officials are hoping the president's stop here will jump-start the tourism industry, which has been reeling...
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