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Mitt Romney: The wrong guy to throw stones at Obama's vacation plans?

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Steven Senne/AP

(Read caption) President Barack Obama swings to hit the ball out of a sand trap while playing golf on Martha's Vineyard in August.

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Is this a "golf shot" that helps or hurts Mitt Romney?

On Monday, the Republican presidential candidate blasted President Obama for a planned vacation and golf games in Hawaii.

"He's going off for 17 days for golf in the sun," Mr. Romney said during a teleconference with Iowa voters. "And I just think it's time to have a president whose idea of being hands-on does not meaning getting a better grip on the golf club."

Romney pointed out that Mr. Obama told Congress not to leave for Christmas vacations until lawmakers have passed his proposed extension of a payroll-tax cut for US workers.

Some political pundits say the former Massachusetts governor landed a solid punch, to shift the metaphors from golf to boxing. Seventeen days is a long vacation by recent presidential standards, and arguably Obama could help the chances of his tax cut by staying in Washington longer and making his break shorter.

But it's still a somewhat tricky assertion for Romney to make.

Lots of presidents have played golf. They take vacations. And by the nature of the job in recent years, those getaways are always to some degree working vacations.

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Romney's comment could backfire with some independent voters, if they see the candidate as throwing stones from the back lawn of a glass house – specifically a pricey beach house that the Republican owns in La Jolla, Calif. It's been described as a Spanish-style home (OK, not all glass) looking out on a white sand beach in the posh community near San Diego.

A few months ago, news surfaced that the candidate plans to more than double the living space in the 3,000-square-foot, roughly $12 million home. This comes despite the track record of other presidential candidates – John McCain (R) in 2008 and John Kerry (D) in 2004 – facing negative publicity for their large real estate holdings.

If elected president, Romney might well make headlines for taking his own warm-weather holidays, whether in southern California or somewhere else. Romney also has a vacation home in the cooler clime of Wolfeboro, N.H.

By one tally, done by CBS News, Obama had spent 61 days on vacation by midsummer (his first 31 months in office). That's more than a little time away. For reference, though, at that time in their presidencies, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan had spent 180 days and 112 days, respectively, at their private ranches.

The Democratic National Committee, responding to Romney's remarks, said Romney himself had spent 212 days of his last year as governor outside Massachusetts. But that wasn't all necessarily vacation.

Obama's plans call for him to leave Washington with his family on Dec. 17 and return after New Year's Day.

The payroll-tax break for working Americans, a temporary tax cut in effect for 2011, is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress acts.

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