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. lila

    "Obama's date night in NY.., heartless."

    Obama has given more money away to hurting industry and US workers than I can wrap my head around. The RNC is crowing about the insensitiveness of Obama taking his wife out one a date in the face of American hardship. Well, car makers are not the only ones hurting. The Arts, fashion, music, restaurants and theater have taken huge hits in the last year. Each time the Obama's do something tons of people follow the example. By going on a single date and having dinner and catching a live show the Obama's will have helped thousands of people working in those above professions. Obama thinks big and has foresight. The republicans think small. That is why Obama is always one step ahead of them.

    June 1, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. Anne - VA

    Oh for crying outloud! STOP with the whinning already...geez!

    Don't the GOP have better things to focus on like Rush????

    So petty...grow up children!!1

    June 1, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. L. Kirk Kauder

    The man works extremely hard and deserves a night out with his wife... and if the neocons want him to "set the example" why aren't they?
    As funny as it sounds, I sure wouldn't want my president living in a cardboard box or riding a bike to work. That would be setting the wrong example don't ya think?
    Yes, we are all in this together, but we need a leader who commands respect, honor and leadership. Hard to do when you're worrying about making it paycheck to paycheck.

    June 1, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Ben

    Get with it, America... the President more than deserves a little vacation... Our last "President" spent most of his term on publically funded vacation.

    One "date night" or a hundred or so trips home to Crawford?

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

    Maybe if some of these Republicans would take their wives on dates instead of over-priced hookers, the family value and morals of this country would be in a much better place.

    June 1, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Jason

    Man the republicans continue to make themselves look like a bunch of whinny babies...

    Didn't Bush have as many or more vacation days than anyother president?

    The Cons are in a free fall grasping for anything they can, very very sad....

    June 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. louise

    You republicans are so small . We Democrats didn't complain when Bush took the longest vacations of any President in History. Remember he was on a month vacation when 911 happened, chopping wood. Get over it and quit complaining, we have a mess to clean up after Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Tranparency – NOT
    Change – NOT
    UmBama has lied to you.

    June 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. david, CA

    Republicans seem to whine about almost anything these days. I guess that's what you do when your party is destined to wander the wilderness for the rest of eternity.

    June 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. Marsha

    Unbelievable! The President cannot fly commercial, people. He is not in prison although sometimes I am sure it feels like it (like when he tries to go to a Broadway play) and every move has to be mapped out like D-Day so, if it can be arranged, I see no reason why the First Couple cannot attend events like this. I, for one, applaud the use of a less expensive means of transportation and trust that security arrangements met Secret Service criteria. If the press wants to hound away on this, then I say release figures for all such "travel" by Presidents. I would be interested in seeing exactly how much those many, many trips to Crawford cost.

    June 1, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Russell in Tenafly

    The only point the Repugnicans have is that we wasted money on a private plane for the press. They are entertainers, and they should pay for their own travel.

    As for the President, he is more than entitled to take a trip, and he can't fly commercial.

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

    Gary's comment is:

    President Obama and his wife Michelle are both young and full of life,
    and they have been thru a long hard battle for the office of President.

    I think a night out in New York is a super idea, and how General Motors has and effect on weather they have dinner and see a show
    escapes me. For all the watch dogs and right wing folks you might as
    well get comfortable, because President Obama is going to be in office for a long time, and you will have much to cover in the years to
    come, so get ready. Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Sean Hannity are you getting all this down? By the way guys I love what you
    are doing to the Republican Party, keep it up and there will be no party
    left to join before too long.

    June 1, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Rashann Coleman

    Would President Obama's critics prefer for him to drag the country though him getting an ugly divorce as opposed to him investing in the first family, and fostering a healthy relationship? I think people need to give the man a break with all of the monumental problems he's presiding over he needs a little R & R. I don't want my president to be a hermit locked in the White house 24/7. He should get out among the people, which requires security. Did anyone mention how whereever he goes is good for the economy. Cnn please research on how any place he frequents sells out tickets. Maybe if Bill Clinton spent taxpayer money on dating Hillary Clinton when they were in office, Americans wouldn't have had to put up with being ridiculed by the world and 30 million dollar impeachment proceedings!

    June 1, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Beth

    I'm a Republican, but I think with the pressure and responsibilities facing this couple it's wonderful they took a date night whatever the cost.

    June 1, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Andy

    Whats wrong with the GOP? Are you kidding me that are complaining about this? Do they think the American people are really that dumb to forget W's non-stop trips to Texas during a war?

    June 1, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Raven Darke

    And how many times did the taxpayer pay for trips to Crawford Ranch! Get serious and stop wasting the peoples time with this mocknews or mews 🙂 It's demeaning to the people that are served by journalism. The Obama's are people and they are young enough to want to go out. Geez Louise, just because Dubya went to bed at 9 pm on New Years Eve cut President Obama some slack. If it's the cost of the flight that upsets everyone then let Rush Limbaugh pay for it with his windbag royalties. It can be his contribution to an economy that his neo-con cronies ruined!

    June 1, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    would anyone volunteer to take on the job of the President ? for crying out loud...I think he

    June 1, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. DJW

    Jason @ 5:09You are a stupid racist what does color have to do with it you stupid idiot!!!!

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

    Yeah, just one more thing for the Repugnicans to complain about... he should stay in the White House 24/7, I guess and not be allowed to actually live. Of course, Bush NEVER took pleasure trips. Why don't the sanctimonious sore losers shut the hell up... we're sick of it... and why don't you, the media, stop covering their constant whining???

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. Keeth in California

    If this is wrong, then I want to see all of the accounting for discretionary spending from the last six presidents.

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. John

    Absolutely the best way to help the economy is to stay indoors at all times, mope around depressed, never spend any money so that everyone goes broke.

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Rich

    What’s the problem with it? He can SCARE use to no end how we have to do something now before anyone can read the bills and how he inherited this mess, spend trillions of dollars and tell the people the government is out of money. So what is an extra 50k or so to go to the Opera when the USA is going to have to file bankruptcy just like the auto companies or sell our assets overseas? Go Big ‘O’ have fun with it. Maybe the media and all of us will wise up soon.

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    would anyone take on the job of President ? for crying out loud...he DESERVES to take on trip whether or not it's on us !

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. That Other Jerry

    I've been a Republican since Reagan and I didn't vote for Obama. However, I respect him as my President and as a father and husband. Being President is a 24/7/365 job. He is never really on vacation. Likewise Michelle Obama has to be on her A-game day in and day out for the next four years, without even a paycheck and probably very little thanks. I don't begrudge him a moment of family time, in fact I respect him for setting an example and a precedent. Put your family first, Mr. President. When all the critics have gone on to someone else, your family will be the ones who still matter. As far as those two planeloads of reporters, why the heck did they get a trip to New York? I think the man can swallow food without their scrutiny. There's where the waste lies! For the rest of you, SHUT UP!! Save it for the real issues.

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Vikram Patel

    GOP has really gone bankrupt with fat cats like Gingrich and Boss Limbaugh at the helm. The sad thing is the CNN pays attention for lack of any other sensational news to cover. That is why their rating has gone down. Therefore, CNN and GOP are on the verge of becoming extinct. That is great news!

    June 1, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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