Barack Obama, who is known for jetting off to exotic vacations at taxpayers’ expense, often even sending his family on ahead – also at taxpayer expense, got a little testy when a reporter questioned him about the practice.

“I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people,” he said.

The comments came in an interview with Larry Conners of KMOV radio in St. Louis, who asked: “The economy is a big issue and concern for folks. I mean, the unemployment, trying to make ends meet, gas prices, food prices going up. Some of our viewers are complaining, they get frustrated, even angered, when they see the first family jetting around, different vacations and so forth, sometimes maybe they think under color of state business and that you’re out of touch, that you don’t really know what they’re experiencing right now.”

Obama tried to minimize the question: “Well, I don’t know how many viewers you’re talking about that say that.”

“We do hear from some,” Conners said.

“I hear from all kinds of viewers about everything,” Obama said.

“I’m sure you do,” the reporter said.

Obama said: “The fact of the matter is I think if you look at my track record, I’m raising a family here. When we travel through Secret Service and Air Force One, that’s not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people.”

The reporter noted that Obama “side-stepped that question.”

“No one is questioning his need to travel on Air Force One or have security. The questions being raised are the first family taking so many vacations, when and where, at taxpayer expense.”

The issue made headlines temporarily last month when Obama’s oldest daughter took a trip to Mexico, accompanied by dozens of security officers. The White House reportedly asked news outlets not to report on the trip.

Before that, according to the Washington Examiner, the Obamas had taken 16 vacations at taxpayer expense.

They include a President’s Day 2012 ski trip to Colorado, an extended stay in Hawaii at Christmas 2011, a Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., vacation during summer of 2011, a trip to Africa and Botswana in June 2011, another Colorado ski vacation on President’s Day 2011, Christmas 2011 for an extended trip to Hawaii.

Before that it was Florida, Chicago, Spain, Martha’s Vineyard again, Mount Desert Island, Maine, Chicago, New York City, Hawaii, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and Martha’s Vineyard again.

The report defended the Obama trips, citing 30 visits President Bush made to his Texas ranch.

“But his have become more controversial because of the costs associated with moving the first family to a public vacation spot, unlike the Bushes to their remote ranch in Crawford, Texas. For example, the Hawaii Reporter said the first family’s 2011 Christmas vacation in Hawaii would exceed $1.5 million.”

The report continued, “Critics and even some in his own party say the vacations present a bad image at a time when many Americans are struggling to get by during the recession.”

The Examiner cited a Harris poll showing only 3 in 10 Americans say they plan to take a vacation lasting longer than a week over six months.

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