June 1st, 2009
08:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Gibbs declines to give cost for Obamas' NYC trip

(CNN) – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday would not disclose the total cost of President and Mrs. Obama's weekend foray to New York City, but said the first couple would have taken a commercial flight to the Big Apple if the Secret Service allowed.

"I think the president, would, could he have, based on the Secret Service, he would have taken the shuttle," Gibbs said. "But I would say that the costs are proportionate with travel for presidents and I would encourage you to look up previous coverage on travel costs because they are analogous."

Some Republicans, including the Republican National Committee, have criticized Obama over the trip, arguing that it was improper for the president to enjoy a weekend of leisure in New York City - which included taking in a Broadway show - as General Motors was prepared to file bankruptcy papers Monday.

Republicans have also questioned the cost to tax-payers for the brief excursion - which included three Gulfstream-size planes to transport the presidet's security detail, staff, and White House reporters.

"If President Obama wants to go to the theater, isn't the presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?" RNC Press Secretary Gail Gitcho said Saturday.

Asked in the White House briefing if there was any "precedent for the president and first lady to take an out of town date night..not connected to a…previous planned event," Gibbs responded: "You've got probably more researchers than I do."


Filed under: President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (306 Responses)
  1. Suzanne

    Taking the Presidential detail on a date is a total waste of taxpayers money. Obama wants people to bear the bad economy – why can't he walk down the street to a DC theater and support the community in which he lives. He was not elected to jet around the US or world for his own personal lifestyle.

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Tiana

    OK people. President Obama is showing us that a marriage is work and he decided he wanted to take his wife out and show her how much he appreciates her. If someone told you because you have a certain job that you are not allowed to take your wife or family out would you be singing a different tune? It is so time for America to grow UP!!!

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. Bob S

    Did Lincoln pay for his ticket to Fords Theatre? Hey you guys in the media. Get a life. I bet you've comped a few tickets to events. Guess who ultimately pays for that? us.

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. Jonesy

    Hey if the stock markets gonna go up like this, Obama can take his wife to Sandals Jamaica every Saturday, as far as a I'm concerned.

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Independent

    I am a strong Obama supporter but I agree with our brothers and sisters on the right wing on this issue. There is something insensitive about a publicized trip to Broadway with all presidential-costs at tax payer expense in the middle of a recession. If for security reasons a lower profile/less-costly trip could not be arranged, then the Obama's should have shelved it for now. It is one of the sacrifices they should make for leading during a crisis.

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Lauren

    Ok, here is my two cents. IF the moderators allows it.

    First, I do not care how much it cost, this is NOTHING different than any other President going on vacation. They all spend OUR money.
    Fine, it is part of the game, like it or not.

    My problem is here, back when the big three showed up in Washington the first time, many Democrats, including some high ranking ones, along with Republicans threw total hissy fits over them using corporate jets. So, this is where it becomes hypocritical. Obama should have to foot part of the bill. Maybe not the secret service detail, but he should have to write a check for airfare costs.
    Yes, I know Bush did it, so did Clinton, they all do. So that argument is a mute point. Obama should not get slapped by anyone because he does it, BUT, that does not make it right when he promoted CHANGE. Change my friends starts at the top.

    And what about Pelosi and her government funded jet, that should come to a stop. She and any other congress person or senate person should have to fly commercial. They get government rates when they do anyway as long as it is business.

    So, bottom line, this is nothing to throw pissy fits over, they all do it, but again,,,, change starts with the man himself.

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Steve

    The "outcry" over this proves, once again, that the right wing has nothing.

    June 1, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Island girl

    Oh please! Bush went to Camp David at the drop of a hat and to me it was no big deal. Why can't the Obamas have a night out? Because it makes you jealous? Come on, he spent a bit of money in NY! You all should do the same – take your darlings out on the weekend and help simulate the economy while putting a smile on your face!

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Pat

    This is stupid!!! How many times did BUSH fly to Texas to cut BUSH on his SPREAD?!!!!

    Get a life!

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Ren from Baltimore

    Who paid for President Reagan's trips home to California? Who paid for W's trips to Crawford? WHO? I can't hear you!

    Don't waste your breath with this B.S., our dear Republican friends (or whoever you are--)

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. marye13

    Matt: "Libtards….Here's the difference….When Bush went on vacation, the country was not experiencing record unemployment, bankruptcies by major American companies, North Korea preparing for long range missle launches, losing wars in Afghanistan….

    Your President is AWOL. Suck it up."

    No, W was on vacation while the country's economy was going down the tubes and didn't even take the time to read the intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden determined to strike..." What time he did spend working in Crawford was spent getting us into a fake, costly war – the expense of which, btw, helped send the economy down the tubes – and in planning premature "Mission Accomplished" celebrations. You righties are the ones who need to "Suck it up."

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Dustin

    This is ridiculous! If I'm reading the article correctly, the Republicans think that just because Obama can't go anywhere without the Secret Service, that he should not go anywhere. And I'm sorry, but the show they wanted to see probably wasn't at the Kennedy Center. DUH!!!
    I'm sure that the Obamas paid for their own dinner and entertainment. The costs beyond that are not in their control, because, again, the Secret Service won't let him go anywhere without a company of cops, and I agree with that.
    Presidents need to get out of Washington and see the country and its citizens in order to keep in touch with what's going on. Unlike Dubya, this president actually likes being around common citizens. If this is the biggest thing that the party of NO can find to complain about, our president must be doing something right.

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. dogdoc

    i live in albany georgia and i cant tell you the number of times old eagle eye cheney came down here on the taxpayers dime to kill quail at a couple of plantations...RNC-where was the outrage...at least obama didnt hurt anyone else like dickey did

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    WOW.............. MORE whining, more criticizing by the GOP.......... what else is new?

    Does the GOP realize that OBAMA can afford to pay for his own trip?

    And that presidents are often GUESTS of restaurants and shows???

    GOP= Grumpy Old Punks

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. Chuck

    I believe the President is on call 24-7-365. Where he is at should make no difference.

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Jeremy

    Really GOP? THIS is the battle you're gonna fight?

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. JA/TN

    let's be real, president Bush stayed in Camp David and in Texas on vacation with taxpayer support, furthermore let jus cancel the security for all former presidents, all are multi-millionaires and can afford their own security detail,

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. jason

    Christina you dummy he owned it. I don't think Obama owns anything of value to this country, but a free ride because of his color!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. revolution

    at least he didn't buzz the city and scare the people again.
    maybe he's learning by his mistakes.

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. Jim

    once again, more republican sensationalizing.

    they are actually complaining about a man taking his wife out on a date, for goodness sake!

    what sorry, sad lives they must lead.

    June 1, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. The Broker.

    Cheap Flights. Overworked pilots. The one in NYC said it all.
    I know I will never fly again. I'm home now!

    June 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. Rob

    Bet ya a miilion bucks that if it was the CEO of GM doing something like this all of you here who say there's nothing wrong with what Obama did would be demanding that CEO's head.

    But once again, it's only OK if their side does it.

    June 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  23. john

    At least he was on a date with his wife. Wonder how many in DC can say that and while we are on the subject ..what is wrong with showing good values and quality time together. Wake up people pay attention to what matters

    June 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. mary kay

    I don't have a problem with a date night, except that it was extremely poor timing and rather insensitive to all of those that are out of work and footing the bill. I don't see why they couldn't have planned it around an official trip. I know the Bushes vacationed as well, but I don't recall a "pretty woman" trip to NYC and I am sure that the Obamas will take several more expensive trips to Hawaii.

    June 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    And Bush took more vacation days than any other President in modern history! Give BO a break.

    June 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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