Obamas head home after Hawaii respite

KAILUA, Hawaii – President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday bid his native Hawaii “aloha” after a 12-day vacation.

Obama, wife Michelle and their two young daughters flew to Chicago where they are expected to arrive early today.

The Obamas planned to go on to Washington this weekend where the president-elect was expected to meet Monday with congressional leaders to talk about the economy and the legislative agenda generally, according to a senior congressional aide.

Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then join with them in a meeting with GOP leaders, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonym-ity because he had not been authorized to discuss the plans.

The Obamas kept a low profile while vacationing on the island of Oahu. Aside from daily trips to the gym and golf courses, the president-elect seldom left his vacation retreat, a rented $9 million home near Honolulu.

Obama joked to onlookers Thursday morning at the gym that he was reluctant to return to Chicago, where temperatures were in the 20s.

While on vacation, Obama did his best to stay out of the discussion over the escalating violence in the Middle East, where Israeli troops launched an offensive against Hamas leaders who had fired rockets from Gaza. Aides said there is only one president at a time, but Obama received security briefings and was in touch with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his incoming national security team.


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