June 1st, 2009
08:55 PM ET
14 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. 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 |
  2. ma

    Is this for real? Personally, I am impressed that President Obama took the time to spend an evening with his wife. I don't think of any us can truly imagine what it is like to live in their shoes, and are we all always saying that dates with your spouse/significant other important to the relationship? If anyone needs a break from their day, it would be these two. And I don't think that national security is really threatened or the crisis with GM is somehow exaggerated by him taking his wife to New York for some fun! Shame on those who have nothing better to do than to judge him for tending to his marriage. We should all be that lucky!

    June 1, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Had It

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I’m REALLY MAD that we have to cover the cost of the media travel.


    My taxes are NOT going to pay for media expenses. If you can’t afford their travel, skip the propaganda on the blogs and tv for a week.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Diane Panama City Fl

    Just more whining from the poor little Gutless Obstructionist Pathetics. How much did it cost the taxpayers when Cheney shot that fellow hunter in the face? How much did it cost taxpayers every time GWB flew to Crawford Texas and back? How much has it cost the taxpayers to clean up after the Elephants (GOP) crapped all over the American people when they deregulated Wall Street, took us into a War in Iraq that has now turned us into a debtor nation to China and allowed Osama Bin Laden to get away with murder? Got any answers – Goppers? No – I didn't think so – the only answers you have are to hang tea bags from your head, and run around dragging your knuckles on the ground while grunting racists insults. George and Dick spent all your money, your children's money and your grandchildren's money long before President Obama even ran for president.

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

    Hey republicans! Go find us some jobs then when can talk about Obama's lunch later!

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Henry

    It is unfair to expect the President to stay at the White House for the next four years and not go anywhere else, except on 'business". He's the President, not a prisoner of the American people, and should not be held hostage in the White House and only go where we say he can go. He's been dealing with the economic diaster fallout since taking office. We all knew GM was failing for weeks. He did all he could do to help them out, prior to this weekend. There was nothing he could have done, in their final hour, to help them. He's human. He needed a break. He took one. It's not like he flew to Monaco and celebrated. He went to NY to take his wife to theater. He deserves time to his family and to relax, just like the rest of us. This is something that is being blown way out of proportion, simply because GM went belly up, which is not his fault, nor anything he could have prevented, despite his trying.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Christie

    Leave the man alone. He is still a person who has a need to feel normal from time to time. I applaude him for making time to connect with his wife and still be there for his family. That's more than I have ever seen from any other president. He likes trying to balance being down to earth and being a politician. Good for him to stay connected to his roots and not forget who he really is. I believe he would have taken a commercial flight had he been allowed, just probably not a safe idea. Just because he didnt jet off to Camp David it's an issue. Had he gone there no one would say a word. Give him half a break people.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. R Wolf

    What is wrong with you people? President Obama is doing an amazing job! Presidents go all over the Country, usually trying to raise funds for their party members. This President deserves a year off with all that he's accomplished in the months he's been in office. Just like Obama haters to make a stink about everything good about the man, his family, and the White House today. The stink should have come when Bush / Cheney were there are did everything humanly possible to put this Country into ruins.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Bill

    We are truly awful people. Such hypocrites we Americans have become; it is a shame. The President takes his wife on a date, and everyone moans about the cost to taxpayers. Boo hoo!

    Maybe more of us husbands need to follow his example and take our wives out on a 'date night.' Of course someone will say, "Oh, but the government won't pay for my date night." Grow up. How many of you out there would take his job? Not me; I put up with enough crap in my little ole job.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Saboth

    It's tough cleaning up the mess of the repugnicans and Bush. The money Obama is spending on bailouts are drops in the bucket compared to what Bush's Iraqi war cost us, and the whole reason we had to bail out anyone was the fact the Repubs had control of 2 branches of government for almost 8 years and did nothing about shady lending and risky loans. Not one thing. It's like blaming the janitor when he shows up to clean a spill that a little kid made because the kid's parents never taught him right from wrong and he smashed bottles in the grocery store on purpose.

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

    Well, the more the Republicans gripe, the deeper your collective political hole gets. President Obama's legacy will be he made tough decisions that no one else had the guts to make to get the horrible economy he inherited get back on track.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Alan

    Remember you peasants: "Do as I say, not as I do. I am the ONE and I know what is best."

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. David

    It's funny how the Democrats rationalize and defend Obama's actions by saying "the Republicans/Bush did it too". I thought the whole point of Obama's campaign was "Change, we can believe in." Where's the change?

    Also, for someone who wants us all to cut back on our carbon footprint, he seems to be saying "do as I say, not as I do." I'm sure he bought carbon credits to offset the three private jets for him and his entourage...or I should say, I'm sure WE bought carbon credits for him.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Cyndie

    Big deal, they had a date night. Good for them! And if they DIDN'T go, exactly how many jobs would that have saved? Hmmm, let's see now.... ZERO!
    Get over it.

    June 1, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Teleprompter of the U.S.A.

    How about that whole "cutting the cost" deal? Goober Gibbs never answers tough questions.

    June 1, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Kevin in NoDak


    There are still Republicans out there????

    June 1, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. sandy

    My goodness. Can we all grow up? I did not vote for Obama but even I see the craziness of all this criticism. He is the President of the United States. The pressure he works under is crazy. He needs to get away from it for a while. I think taking his wife to a show on Broadway is wonderful. Wish I could have been there.

    Republicans and Democrats, stop it. Stop it right now. I bet if we researched it, you would find where Republican presidents spent money too on this type of entertainment. We've got to grow up, focus on other things, and make sure that this country and this planet is viable for another century. Let's worry about Iran, North Korea, GM and other things rather than a New York trip to Broadway – no matter what it cost. In the scheme of things – pocket change – not billions, not trillions.

    June 1, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. phoenix86

    I don't believe that any president in history used taxpayer money for one night out with his wife.

    But I guess Obama was celebrating this weekend that he would get to screw over the bondholders at GM, take over an auto company AND payoff the UAW all on Monday morning, with his mindless followers cheering him on and the media effectively neutered.

    His next book will simply be titled "Audactiy".

    June 1, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. james

    And how many days of vacation did GW take during his years in office? More than any President of the United States before him. Wasted time and money flying back and forth to Texass. He wouldn't have the class to take his wife to a decent Broadway show. After all the extravaganses of the prior 8 years, and the elite right thinks they have the right to judge a husband and wife getting away from the kids and work for a few hours. Bush, Dick, Rummy and their accomplices looted, raped & pillaged, and these "Conservative" creeps think they can judge. Look it up in the your bible before you start accusing.

    June 1, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. annie s

    This is downright silly. During his presidency, George Bush made 77 trips to his ranch in Texas on taxpayer money. Did the RNC complain about any of those trips?

    June 1, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Cheryl

    Um, how many trips to Crawford did we pay for while our soldiers were dying in Iraq? Come on, Republicans. If this is the best you can do, Obama must be even better than all the election-year hype suggested.

    June 1, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. jenneyi

    Who can argue that the president and his wife need time for themselves, to travel, take in a show, keep their lives somewhat normal given the life they've agreed to live on behalf of the often thankless job of running our country? No one likes wasteful spending, but time off, alone and on their own is healthy and needed for any married coupled – no one should be denied this. The opponents of the Obama trip should sit down, tackle some of the crucial issues this country faces and talk about ways to progress and solve serious issues – to talk about the trip to NYC is just ludicrous, find a real problem with an issue our administration is handling and make suggestions how to change or improve them. Frankly, this issue doesn’t even deserves the press’s time, they’re partly to blame for even given it space, both parties should be embarrassed – find a real cause to talk/report on.

    June 1, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. Jake

    such a distraction!
    just think about the thousands of dollars his visit is going to generate for the play they saw – not to mention a boost for the restaurant.

    we'll take Mr and Mrs President in New York anytime they want to visit, and at ANY COST!

    June 1, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. whitw woman

    To the stupid and ignorant that wrote that the whote man ruin this country, I am positive that you are black. Let me ask you something mr. or ms. know it all and prejudice and everything that comes with it. Why are you always screaming white man did this white woman did that. I dont see you black self doing anything for this country. So shut up and go sit on a corner and do suck on something. You always have to play the race card, go get a life and a job. The only change that Obama gave us is the change in our pocket.

    June 1, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. trueblue

    I wouldn't be surprised if some Republican didn't complain about Obama liking to be with Michele too much (do they know the word
    "uxorious") but they are just making themselves look childish and stupid by complaining about the Obamas having a night our in New York City.

    June 1, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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