Washington (AFP) - US President Barack Obama left Washington Tuesday for a round of West Coast fundraising, with opponents questioning the trip's timing amid a proliferation of global crises.
The trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, in which Obama will help raise money for Democrats campaigning in November's mid-term elections, has elicited sharp criticism from Republicans.
The White House assured reporters however that the president would not miss a beat in fulfilling his duties.
"In terms of fundraising, it's a responsibility that presidents in both parties for generations have been responsible for," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, following a barrage of questions over the trip's timing.
Obama travels amid a third week of violence in the Gaza-Israel crisis, and just days after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown out of the sky over eastern Ukraine by what is believed to have been a surface-to-air missile. It also comes amid a raging jihadist-led Sunni insurgency in Iraq.
"The fact of the matter is the president, like most professionals, has the capability to deal with more than one priority at a time," Earnest said.
"He's got his own airplane. He's got dedicated phone lines. He has senior advisers who will be accompanying him every step of the way to make sure that he has access to the information and technology necessary to represent American interests in the midst of these challenging international times," Earnest added.
Obama is scheduled to return to the White House late Thursday.