February 24th, 2009
12:20 PM ET
13 years ago

Gibbs: Obama puts new presidential helicopters on hold

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/24/art.prezchopper0224.gi.jpg caption="White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the President has put on hold an order for a new fleet of presidential helicopters orginally ordered by the previous administration."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama put on hold an order for a fleet of new helicopters that will cost at least $11 billion, his spokesman told CNN Tuesday.

"The president talked to the secretary of defense, and I think as he said yesterday to Sen. (John) McCain, we don't need any new helicopters at the White House," Robert Gibbs said on CNN's "American Morning."

Asked if that meant the order was being put on hold, Gibbs said: "That's exactly what he talked to the secretary about."

McCain, the Arizona Republican who was Obama's rival for the White House in last year's election, questioned the president about the cost of the new helicopter fleet on Monday.

"Your (proposed new) helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One," the presidential airplane, McCain said. "I don't think that there's any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas ... have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money."

The price tag for the proposed new fleet of 28 helicopters has virtually doubled to more than $11 billion over the last six years. Each helicopter in the fleet would reportedly cost around $400 million.

President Bush put in the order for new high-security presidential helicopters in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The president's helicopter is known as Marine One when he is flying on it.

Obama suggested Monday he would put the order on hold.

"I've already talked to (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates about a thorough review of the helicopter situation. The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me," a smiling Obama said to a room of laughing congressional, corporate and community leaders.

"I think it is ... an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and we're going to have to fix it," he added.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. walleye

    Fiscal responsibility starts at the top. I'm glad to see we have Obama in the White House.

    February 24, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Curt K

    Leading by example. Corporate weenies take notice!

    February 24, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. Trysh in Los Angeles

    Good, but I am still amazed at how many Republicans are silly enough to think that President Obama ordered these planes in the past month as opposed to READING the facts and knowing that this is another one of Bushes ridiculous money wasters.

    February 24, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. ran

    McCain never question Bush over this issue. I can only hope that the people of AZ will not reelect this guy. President Obama is doing the right thing here but you can bet the Republicans will continue to be obstructionist.

    February 24, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  5. brian

    Hey Johnny Mac, the order for the new copters was put in by Bushie. Typical repub, letting facts get in the way of false outrage...

    February 24, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Bananarama Victim

    You're not compaigning against World's Gretest Grandpa anymore. You no longer have to pander to this man's digs at you about being too frivilous. He's has seven more houses than you.

    February 24, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Eric M

    When orders like this are placed, the contractor spends money on labor and materials. If the helicopter order is ultimately cancelled, you can be sure the contractor is going to be compensated somehow...on an order this size, it will probably mean spending millions and getting nothing in return.

    I don't know why the President needs 28 helicopters. I'm sure someone somewhere has a valid reason as to why we need that many helicopters to service one man, but that's the question I would like answered before anything else.

    Still, this smacks of a political manuever, similar to the one used against Citigroup (who walked away from a seven figure deposit on their own plane) and the Big 3 (the "OMG THEY FLEW HERE ON PLANES" fiasco during bailout proceedings). It doesn't consider common sense whatsoever, it's just meant to draw a reaction.

    February 24, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Anthony In Miami

    John McCain was trying to tie a George Bush policy to President Obama and it's blown up in his face. If I'm reading this right: George Bush in the wake of 911 said our helicopters that support our President are inadequate. He puts in an order for new helicopters before president Obama takes office. Now it's President Obama who is wasting tax payer money. MMMMMMMMMMMMM
    Question: John McCain: Did you ask President Bush when he made to the request to not only justify them but explain to you how it's not pork? Stop picking and choosing your political battles. (ones you have already lost)

    February 24, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. jeffmn

    I like a president that can take a suggestion from an opponent, even if he wasn't responsible for ordering the helicopters or the run up in price.

    February 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Tim S

    Someone please tell Mr. McCain that the helicopters were ordered by Mr Bush.... Remember him?

    February 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. Mike Borysewicz

    Why didn't John McCain complain when this project started under George Bush. His complaint comes across as a cheap shot.

    February 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. Stally

    I find it amazing that republicans (John McCain) are complaining about overspending that they set into motion. Their failed policies have created the economic nightmare that we are all currently living through and they have the gaul to insinuate that the President is somehow engaging in rampid overspending. If I were a member of the republican party I would hide my head in shame and pray that things turned around quickly.

    I think it is reprehensable to attempt to villanize President Obama for the economic problems that were created by one of the worst presidents this nation has ever seen.

    February 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Jacqueline in Cameron,Missouri

    John Mc Cain should be ashamed of himself.....and of course while he was pointing a finger at our President, he had the others pointing back at himself and the Administration that WE voted OUT........I am thankful that MY President is an informed President.....unlike Mr. Mc Cain who opened his mouth and inserted his foot.

    February 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Jeff Shaw

    First I want to applaud CNN for showing the White House Summitt meeting without interruption. I enjoyed watching the smooth way President Obama handled some of those elected officials and their oversized ego's. I've been a long time Republican, and I voted for Obama because he speaks for me. I only regret that the majority in my State still believe in marginally effective people such as Joe Barton and John Cornyn. But, after suffering eight years of a previous product from Texas, the bar was never raised.

    February 24, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. steven williams

    Good choice. if you never had a helicopter ,why get a new one? The one you have is new to you. Although if there are safety concerns, buy a new one.

    February 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. Yooper906

    If standard blackhawks are good enough for our men and women in harms way, then the existing fleet should be good enough for the President. Thank you Mr. McCain!

    February 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Hawkeye

    Just more McCain/GOP grandstanding. I think it was last week the White House mentioned the purchase of the helicopters was under review.

    Did McCain mention the helicopters were ordered by then President Bush?

    February 24, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. MJ

    Why didn't McCain question Bush about the helicopters when Bush proposed them 6 years ago? And why is he now making an issue of it with Obama? I think we all know how sneeky and deceitful he and some of his fellow Republicans can be. Stop the partisanship now JOHN and putf what is best for our country above what is best for your political advantage.

    February 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Mike NY

    CNN – what happened to my comment about why the helicopters are only on hold when they are (quoting President Obama) "an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and we're going to have to fix it," ? Fixing it would be cancelling the order, not spending large sums to study the issue.

    February 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. mjm

    An order for 28 helicopters creates jobs.

    What happens to those jobs when the order is placed on hold?

    I'd rather have people building helicopters on tax payer’s money instead of some of the other spending in the stimulus plan.

    McCain was wrong to bring it up. Obama was wrong to put the order on hold.

    February 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. Chuck

    The VH-3's will need to be replaced at some point though. Structual cracks will force them to be grounded.

    Agree the acquisition of the new VH-71's needs to be completely re-evaluated based on the price tag, but the end state needs to be the same. Replace the very old VH-3's.

    February 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. Cynthia in Michigan

    President Obama gets to clean up yet another pricey mess of George Bush. Any more Republican spending sprees you would like to tell us about John?

    February 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. T the B

    Typical Republican ploy. Blame the Dem. These helicopters were ordered by GW Bush. The cost is inflated because he gave the contract to a company who does not produce helicopters. Gee I wish you people hadn't voted for him...and twice?

    February 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. Big Bear

    Would he really have put the helicopters on hold if he hadn't been questioned on it. Now he has to ride in the same helicopter that Bush rode in. Doesn't get a new one like the limo he got. How much did the new limo cost?

    It should have been done for free, since the US government is bailing out the car industry. They should be doing some freebies for the government:)

    February 24, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. GG

    Obama needs to practice what he preaches...so far he has NOT done that, so much wastefull spending...Nancy Pelosi trip to Italy with 10 other members, signing the stimulas in Arizona instead of right in the White house come on people WAKE UP!!! they don't care about the people they care about themselves only...
    Dissapointed, and before all the slamming I voted for him... big mistake!!!!

    February 24, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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