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. Michael

    The funny thing is, $11 billion spent on helicopters is probably better for the economy than any $11 billion in the stimulus package. American engineers, machinists, programmers, painters... when all's said and done a lot of middle-class jobs are tied to something like this.

    February 24, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. Jerzjen

    A good suggestion was presented, and considered. That's all the American people want. Bu I can't help but wonder where all the cost consciousness was when GWB ordered a new fleet of helicopters. 28!!! Wouldn't 2 or 3 have been sufficient? I can even accept 5! McCain should rallied his forces against that kind of spending when the order was placed!

    February 24, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Thanks Mr. President, for stopping the process, but the security of the President should not be compromised. If the order for new high-security presidential helicopters was considered necessary, the plan can be revisited later.

    February 24, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. kacee

    good move mr. president.

    February 24, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. RJ

    McCain was right and I'm glad Obama listened.
    $400 million for ONE helicopter is beyond ridiculous.
    It's the first decision Obama has made that I actually agree with.

    February 24, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. roger in ga

    (1) I do think that 11 Billion for the 28 units is a bit to much.
    (2) The contract should not be awarded to any foreign company due to national security reasons and for the safety of The President.
    (3) The American company that should produce the Marine One Helicopters should one that produces them as a normal part of their business and not a company that has never built one.
    (4) The producing company should submit a bid and build the units for that agreed upon bid and deliver the same on time and on or under budget and should they happen to come in under budget the company would still be paid the agreed upon price per unit.
    (5) Change orders should be more reasonably priced rather than the rip off prices usually charged by contractors.

    February 24, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. Deborah

    Thank John McCain for pointing this out and saving us!

    February 24, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. KMasters

    Nice. They were ordered by Bush, but are now "Obama's" proposed helicopters. This type of politics is so helpful right now.

    February 24, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Lane

    The POTUS will make the right decision on this issue. He did not order them so what is McCain's point?

    February 24, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. Leah from FL

    This is so funny... EVEN when McCain knows that Bush ordered the copters, he STILL tries to insinuate that Prez Obama is wasting tax payers money!! What I find even more troubling is that McCain knows the truth will be revealed, but doesn't care. Again, Faux news and the Repubs jump on any false statement uttered by their party. McCain is devious and Machiavellian.

    February 24, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. Thomas

    This is a good decision.

    February 24, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. lefty loosy

    Put them on Hold !!!!
    forget it cancel the order

    February 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. DG

    Why would McCain bring up anything about helicopters when there are much more important matters to discuss? He had that nasty little grin on his face too. That just shows me that we elected the right man for President. I think President Obama put McCain and several Republicans in their place. Good for him!

    February 24, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. jummai

    sensible from a reasoning president. some dumb president from a not too distant past would have gone ahead with the purchase!

    February 24, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Sharon Johnson

    McCain is a sore loser. First of all these helicopers were ordered by Bush and I didn't hear him making any complaints about the cost. And secondly, if his old crochety self had won, I doubt very seriously he would be caring about the cost. That dude is a hypocrite and would like nothing better than to see President Obama fail and to make his life as miserable as he possibly can.

    February 24, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. rich

    McCain is a sore hippocritical loser. Had he become president, he would not have raised the issue on his own. Also, he never made a stink about it when Bush ordered them. Thanksfully, Obama is hip to his game and other obstructionist Repigs, and deal with them with a big smile and tons of class.

    February 24, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. Tulsa L

    McCain asked the question and made it sound as if Obama was the one that requested this purchase of new helicopters..........it was in the system before Obama came into office, (Bush put in this order after 9/11) Why didn't McCain make this same complaint to his then Republican President Bush? Oh yea I forgot, McCain supported Bush 95% of the time.......I guess it was OK for Bush to request these helicopters but now the Republicans want to make the public believe that it was Obama that wanted them.......McCain every time you open your mouth everything comes out so bitter and angry........get over it.....if losing to Obama is going to effect the way you act as a Senator and how you represent your people of AZ. then get out of the way.....cause you and your republican party are getting in the way of the rest of us that want to move on.......

    February 24, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. opedanderson

    McCain is doing what Obama asked him to do......call him out when he sees something not right happening. And Obama is living up to his side of the deal.

    Despite everything, 2 decent guys getting along for the betterment of us all.

    February 24, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. jason twombley

    of course, once again, sir john mcdazed is out in left field, expecting everything to be fixed at the same time, while usa has other tremendous worries...yu go john, dig up some more crap to divert attention from your own iieptitude. i do agree that new helicopters arent needed, and prolly a thousand other items...why dont YOU lend a hand john, other than your constant mouthing off

    February 24, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. its about time

    Bipartisanship has to start somewhere. I am sure this was orchistrated between the two of them.

    February 24, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Geno

    It is not "your" helicopter(Obama's Helicopter) John. It was George Bush's helicopter. Get your facts straight. What's next, it was Barack Obama's war in Iraq? I hate identifying myself with a party, but Republicans continue the mud slinging, hypocritical B.S. as usual. They never question Bush or stood up against him, but have the gall to accuse and point blame towards Obama? Yeah, keep trying to show that you are cool and hip towards young people and in touch with the people. Standing from up here, it looks as if the hole you keep digging yourselves into keeps getting deeper.

    February 24, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Boston Joe

    I agree. I didn't vote for McCain but I liked him. But that was pure entrapment. Bush ordered the fleet years ago, not Obama. That was pure grandstanding, and I'm personally getting really tired of these stunts.

    February 24, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. kathy

    I watched as McCain asked as to the helicopters...he is a bitter old man! The republicans spent money recklessly and Obama is doing his best to set the economy straight and get us back on track. McCain needs to be reminded he lost and to quit trying to drum up controversy.

    February 24, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  24. matt

    McCain, way to go!!! Obama loves to spend that $...I guess he gets that from Michelle's side of the family...if you know what I mean

    February 24, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. matt

    "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism," American socialist Norman Thomas famously once said, "but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."

    February 24, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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