President Obama will fit in a meeting with families of the 14 victims in the San Bernardino terror attack, en route to his yearly vacation in Hawaii.
The president plans to make the stop in San Bernardino on Friday, a visit that the White House acknowledges will not be long.
“The president will not be on the ground for a long time but he will be on the ground for a couple of hours – long enough to spend some time with the families,” White House spokesman John Earnest said Thursday.
The president has come under criticism in recent days over his handling of the largest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. He has spent the week meeting with security officials and reassuring the public about the administration's strategy for confronting the Islamic State. He also plans to hold a press conference on Friday before he leaves for the first family’s annual holiday Hawaii trip -- stopping in California along the way.
“The president felt before he could begin his holiday, that it was important for him to spend some time with these Americans who are mourning,” Earnest said. He said the families "are going through a difficult time not only because they’ve lost loved ones but obviously -- at the holiday season -- I think that loss is even more acute.”
Still, fitting in the visit in these circumstances might create a bit of an optics problem.
“[Obama’s] visit so far in time from the event and on his way to a vacation is too little, too late,” Republican strategist Bradley Blakeman told FoxNews.com. “In the past, he has been quick to respond to local crimes even supporting ‘victims’ that turned out to be perpetrators.”
On Thursday, Obama said Americans should feel safe in their own country and said there were no new specific or credible threats to the homeland. He made the declaration during a visit at the National Counterterrorism Center in northern Virginia.
On Monday, Obama went to the Pentagon where he received an update on military efforts to prevent terrorist strikes in America.
This was after Syed Farook and Tashfeel Malik opened fire at a holiday party on Dec. 2 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, murdering 14 people.