Obama Called Nine Foreign Leaders While on Vacation

Obama follows through during a round Saturday. Obama follows through during a round Saturday. Steven Senne/AP

The bear is loose again in the streets of Washington.

President Obama returned to the White House on Sunday night after two weeks in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts with his family. During that time, the president broke the cardinal rule of vacation: He worked—calling nine foreign leaders. Here's who Obama called and what they talked about:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, about Iraq
  • Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, about the leader's recent election
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, about Gaza
  • Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, about the Ebola outbreak
  • Sierra Leonian President Ernest Bai Koroma, about the Ebola outbreak
  • Romanian President Traian Băsescu, about the crisis in Ukraine
  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, about Russian intervention in Ukraine
  • Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, about Georgia's growing partnership with NATO
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, about the crisis in Ukraine

Obama also, coincidentally, played the same number of rounds of golf—a leisurely activity that, set against a backdrop of tragic news stories in Ferguson and Iraq, drew criticism. CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller counted the rest of the president's activities in Massachusetts, including business and pleasure:

  • Four dinners out
  • Three press statements
  • Two beach trips
  • Two hikes
  • One Democratic fundraiser
  • One jazz show
  • One birthday party
  • One family bike ride

Across the pond, British Prime Minister David Cameron was also on vacation, which he put on pause to deliver press statements of his own. "Wherever I am in the world I am always within a few feet of a BlackBerry, and an ability to manage things should they need to be managed," he said, offering a defense similar to the one the White House has given to critics of Obama's vacation.

Looks like when you're a world leader, there's no such thing as an out-of-office message.

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