'Sports and Leisure Activities are a Good Way for Release,' White House Says of Obama Golf Optics

Back in Martha's Vineyard for another week of vacation, President Obama hit the golf course for more than four hours directly after giving a statement Wednesday on the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

He hit the links again Thursday for more than four hours.

Today, White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was asked by reporters just why he kept golfing during times of crisis.

"I am not going to get into the president's mindset on that. I will say that, generally, I think that, you know, sports and leisure activities are -- are a good way for release and clearing of the mind for a lot of us," Schultz replied.

"The president did give a powerful statement in this auditorium Wednesday afternoon. I think that anyone wondering his views on both the situation with ISIL, that video, or his concern for the Foley family should go back and review that statement. It was delivered from the heart, it was candid, it was honest, and it was open," the spokesman said.

"And I think anyone trying to assess how seriously he takes the gravity of that situation should go back and watch that or read it or listen to it again."

But what about the optics of Obama laughing on the golf course after giving a statement about the Foley tragedy, Schultz was asked.

"I understand you're asking about the optics. But let me just take a minute to explain how we approach this," he responded. "First and foremost, the president is focused on doing his job. And to us, that's paramount. And what I think you've seen is just because the president is in a different location doesn't mean he's not doing his job. And I don't think anyone in this room who's been covering this or following the president for the past few weeks could deny that the president's been deeply engaged on issues both domestic and abroad."

"It's important for us to understand, and I think that's been evident, is that the issues the country is facing, both on the international stage and back here at home, have absolutely captured the president's attention while we've been here."