March 20th, 2013
09:32 AM ET
1 year ago

Presidential limo breaks down ahead of Obama's arrival

Jerusalem (CNN) - An official limousine awaiting President Barack Obama's arrival in Israel malfunctioned Wednesday but the Secret Service now says the reason for the mechanical problem had nothing to do with the type of fuel used, as first reported.

"The appropriate gas was put in the car," Ed Donovan, spokesman for the Secret Service, told CNN.

Citing an official in the region, CNN reported, as did other media outlets, that the vehicle had been filled with gasoline instead of diesel fuel. At the time, the Secret Service did not waive reporters off the idea that the car had the wrong fuel.

Donovan said the vehicle actually doesn't have a diesel engine and runs on unleaded gasoline. The Secret Service is generally tight-lipped about details of the president's limousine, otherwise known as "The Beast."

Because the vehicle was built on a Chevrolet Kodiak chassis, whose engine runs on diesel fuel, it was believed that the limo also ran on diesel.

The Secret Service says the diagnostics are still ongoing.

However, an Israeli official adamantly stands by the story that the limousine was filled with the wrong type of fuel.

The limo failed to start, and required towing in Jerusalem at 10 a.m. local time. Obama, who landed in Tel Aviv around noon, was not in the country at the time the limo was towed. A second presidential limo was brought to transport Obama.

"We experienced mechanical trouble with one of the cars," Donovan told a pool reporter traveling with Obama earlier Wednesday. "We don't know the cause."

"That's why we bring different multiple vehicles," Donovan said.

The tow truck company owner who picked up the limo said the U.S. consulate called him to tow the vehicle in Jerusalem because it wouldn't start.

Multiple official vehicles are typically flown ahead of time to destinations where Obama is visiting. On his trip to the Mideast, Obama will stop in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel, Ramallah in the West Bank, and will visit with Jordan's King Abdullah in that nation.

The presidential limousine is a specially built Cadillac that's estimated to weigh 8 tons. There are multiple, identical copies that are used to transport Obama around Washington and on his trips out of town.

The car reportedly features inches of armor and bulletproof glass, doors and windows that seal shut in the event of a gas attack, and special shocks to absorb blasts.

– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Israel • President Obama
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Nick

    That isd what you call Karma!!

    March 20, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. g

    some thing smells here better keep their eyes open–it is the middle east

    March 20, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    TexasBob

    Now this is definately an OOPS moment
    -----------------------
    LOL.
    This is definiety a "teachable moment". ROTFLMAO.

    March 20, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Mandingo

    It was probably mislabeled at the fuel pump. That's what happens when you fill up in a backwards third world country.

    March 20, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Alex

    Because of the sequester they are only allowed to use regular 87.

    March 20, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. fsjunkie

    Wow...appears the unemployment numbers just went up thanks to that numb skull who USED to be in charge of pumping gas. What an expensive lapse of attention.

    March 20, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. GOP = Greed Over People

    While on the surface I find this amusing but then I stopped chuckling when I realized what a bone head mistake this is.

    What is up with SS these days? The Barbie mannequin crashes the WH party, agents leave the itinerary out so hookers can view them and someone in motorcade mechanic squad, is so green, they did not know what type of fuel the limo uses?

    Hope that doesn't happen with AF1 on the way home!

    Suddenly, it has become very, very unfunny.

    March 20, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. GOP = Greed Over People

    Uh, the motorcade is fully self contained and self sufficient, the beast is not filled up at the local Racetrac station.

    March 20, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. ORChuck

    My assumption is that all fuel to be used in vehicles associated with the presidential party is brought from the US probably in what we might call Jerry Cans. Even the water the president and senior people drink is brought from the US on overseas trips like this.

    If reports that gasoline was used in a diesel engine are correct, then that engine was ruined beyond reasonable repair in a matter of one second and we tax payers will be replacing the engine in that vehicle. That, however, will be very minor expense compared to the overall cost of one of these big overseas presidential trips.

    March 20, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. obbop

    Imagine the cumulative savings if the politician lackeys of corporations and ruling-elite masters would use technology to communicate without the need for expensive travel that also wastes fuel and time.

    Of course, the politicos would not have as many self-serving photo ops and the BIG game that is politics and the pageantry of it would not have the visual aspect of the ongoing indoctrination of the HUGE multitude of common folks brainwashed to following those politician lackeys for the betterment of those high atop the socio-economic hierarchy.

    March 20, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Betsy

    Too funny ! LOL I bet that driver is hiding his head somewhere. LOL
    Can't some of you people see the humor in this and stop with the paranoia.

    March 20, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. WiredweirdinSF

    The most incompetent, corrupt, inept lying, union toady president will probably blame it on the sequester idea he shoved down the Republican throats and if he doesn't Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will. Obama will probably need another taxpayer funded vacation after this or at least Michelle will for sure.

    March 20, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. JackW

    So, what do you think that will cost the American tax payer? Put the wrong fuel in the "beast?" You're kidding, right?

    March 20, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If reports that gasoline was used in a diesel engine are correct, then that engine was ruined beyond reasonable repair in a matter of one second and we tax payers will be replacing the engine in that vehicle.
    -------------------------------------------------
    That is absolute hogwash.
    The gas has to go through the lines, the injector pumps, the nozzle. It would take a few minutes minimum of running time before you were even made aware of the fact that you'd put in the wrong fuel.
    I'm not even going to ask where the hell you people concoct these theories. Use your vivid imagination for good dude not to further incite.

    March 20, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. JJ

    Like his years in office; stalled and broken.

    March 20, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Bush

    No worries...we'll just blame it on Bush.

    March 20, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Dan from parma

    I see everyone blaming the driver, but is that really the case??? As someone else noted, I believe they transport their own fuel. And their is a full support crew for when the president travels.

    so, could it have been one of the support crew that put the wrong fuel in? And then the driver find the mistake because of it not starting?

    March 20, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. GREGORY ADAMSON

    Gasoline is MORE viscus – not less- than diesel. Diesel is thicker than gas.

    March 20, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Donna

    Not a surpise.... Obama is breaking everything he touches. The economy, our healthcare system, our constitution, ...

    March 20, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Libertarian For RP

    Nothing new here. Everything this guy does fails. Even trying to get from Point A to Point B in the limo.

    March 20, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Romney is Still NOT My Hero

    @ GOP = Greed Over People – What is up with SS these days?
    ----------------------------–

    It sends a very disturbing, clear message to the world, when we don't even know how to properly respect and take care of our own leader.

    March 20, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. mom4change

    To quote Harry Reid, "... one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance. That's the way sequester was written. Now, the bill that's on the floor, we hope to pass today helps that a little bit." Ya think there's a little money in that bill to hire a properly trained mechanic?

    March 20, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. Randy

    Well, those nasty budget cuts finally hit the White House. I guess the drive was told we could no longer afford the higher price of diesel.

    March 20, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    ORChuck

    My assumption is that all fuel to be used in vehicles associated with the presidential party is brought from the US probably in what we might call Jerry Cans. Even the water the president and senior people drink is brought from the US on overseas trips like this.
    ------------------
    That is pretty much my understanding of how it works, too. Maybe those C-130 crews are a bit out of practice. Or maybe, the guys who got all of the experience under Bush retired.

    March 20, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Woman In California

    A mistake was made;
    The president was not in the car;
    The secret service was prepared for this mistake;
    Other arrangements were implemented; and
    The president was arrived safe and sound.

    Real good organization if you ask me.

    March 20, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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