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Obama arrives in Hawaii for delayed holiday

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HONOLULU — President Barack Obama may have had to delay his vacation by about a week, but now that he is in Hawaii, he isn't wasting any time starting his holiday.

Less than 30 minutes after landing in Hawaii Friday night, the president and Michelle Obama headed out to one of their favorite dinner spots — Morimoto Restaurant. The White House said the Obamas were joined at dinner by several friends.

Mrs. Obama has been in Hawaii with her daughters for a week. But the president delayed his departure to stay in Washington while Congress worked out an agreement on extending expiring payroll tax cuts.

The president has no public events planned while in Hawaii. A small group of advisers are travelling with him to brief him on domestic and international developments.

In his weekly radio and Internet address the president wished a Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all Americans, with a special message of thanks to the troops.

"Let's take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families' service; for our veterans' service," the president said Saturday. "And let's say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm's way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear."

The president was joined by the first lady in recording the weekly address. Mrs. Obama added her own word of thanks, saying "let's make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do."

The president noted that with the Iraq war over, the last troops from that conflict are home for the holidays. And the Obamas urged people to find a way to give back to the military, directing listeners to Joining Forces, the first lady's initiative to help military families.

Republicans also set aside talk of legislative and partisan battles in their weekly address, recorded by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indianapolis.

Pence urged Americans to remember the troops and also to think of those who are less fortunate, struggling to make ends meet in the tough economy or unable to find work.

"This holiday season, let's all make a special effort to come alongside these families in their time of need and support local charities as they provide for the needs across our communities," Pence said. "Let's also make a point to personally reach out to that neighbor or friend who needs a helping hand, a kind greeting or an invitation — it might be just the gift someone needed most."