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Lynn Sweet: Michelle Obama Spain Trip Politics "Didn't Work Out the Way the White House Thought"


Michelle Obama returned home from a Spain vacation to criticism as to why she took such a lavish trip during difficult economic times. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times and Politics Daily's has reported that the First Lady was in Spain to spend time with a close friend from Chicago who recently lost her father, and she discussed the trip on "Washington Unplugged" Tuesday.

"Mrs. Obama is politically savvy so whatever the outcome of helping out a friend she understands she has to deal with that now that she's back," Sweet told CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of "Face the Nation" Bob Schieffer. Obama was unable to make the funeral at the beginning of July.

Earlier this summer, Obama encouraged Americans to take summer vacations on the Gulf Coast. After a trip to Maine last month, the first family will fly to Florida for the first time this weekend.

"This may raise some appearance problems for them," Sweet said. "Politics is perception and the perception is that they're taking a lot of vacations but on the point of helping out the Gulf Coast, they're only going to go there for a day."

Sweet and other journalists questioned the White House and press secretary Robert Gibbs on "the appearance" of Obama's lavish international trip. Gibbs said she is a "private citizen" and this was a "private trip." The first lady, daughter Sasha and friends paid for their stay at the five star Ritz Carlton Villa Padierna, but Obama was accompanied by about ten staffers and dozens of Secret Service officers.

"She is a public figure," Sweet said Monday. "And this is a very savvy White House." Sweet, who has covered the Obamas since before the 2008 presidential election, said she thought the White House had to know this trip would be scrutinized, but this "didn't work out the way the White House thought."

Former State Department legal advisor under President Bush, John Bellinger and Amnesty International's Tom Parker also joined Bob Schieffer on "Washington Unplugged" for a discussion on Guantanamo Bay.

"Washington Unplugged,"'s exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on each weekday at 2:00 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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