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Obama takes plunge to show Gulf Coast is safe

US President Barack Obama took the plunge with daughter Sasha for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico to show that the BP oil spill hit Gulf Coast is open for business.

world Updated: Aug 15, 2010 18:24 IST

US President Barack Obama took the plunge with daughter Sasha for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico to show that the BP oil spill hit Gulf Coast is open for business.

"I think we're going to go tomorrow and as I just said Ed, I'm not going to let you guys take a picture of me with my shirt off," Obama jokingly told CNN on Saturday. "You guys will tease me just like last time. I was on the front page ... People commenting."

But just hours later, a photo was published on the White House Flickr page showing a smiling Obama and his daughter Sasha taking a dip in the Gulf waters off Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Florida.

No reporters or press cameras were present for the swim, but the image will nonetheless send a message that the White House has sought to convey with the First Family's trip: the Gulf Coast is open for business, CNN said.

Obama caused a bit of a tabloid stir when he took off his shirt to reveal a muscular physique during trips to Hawaii during the 2008 presidential campaign and subsequent presidential transition.

But some are less concerned about Obama ending up on magazine covers, and more worried about the White House sending the right message.

This is the president's fifth trip to the Gulf Coast region since the April 20 explosion that sparked the oil disaster. The trip is generating criticism over whether Obama is giving the region short shrift by spending only parts of Saturday and Sunday in Panama City.

The president is accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and their younger daughter Sasha. The oldest, Malia, is still away at camp and will not be in Florida.

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