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

    As a Republican, I am embarassed that this is even an issue. Given President Obama's recent workload, a night out on the town, albeit NYC, is well deserved. C'mon folks, haven't we got anything more substantive to bicker over?

    June 1, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. M Bass

    Certainly the president will not and should not break a promise he made to his wife during the campain just because of some cheap shorts from republicans.George Bush spent alot more time in camp david and crawford than any president

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Big Ed

    O.K, all the Republicans that have been blasting the Obamas for the trip to New York; Where was all your complaining when "W" made all those trips to Crawford? Where was your howling when "W" went on his taxpayer-paid "farwell" tour of the very few countries he didn't hack off. From surplus to record deficit – where were you then?

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. HonestMistake

    It's all about perception. He would make such a bigger impact on the rest of the country if he started cutting back and sharing his cost savings tips. But this, "do as I say not as I do" attitude is what people have a problem with. Turn the head down in the White House and get out the sweaters like your good friend Jimmy.

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. DLN

    Wow! The Republicans have nothing. Absolutely nothing. When President Obama takes as much vacation as Dubya did, then they can run their mouths.

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Terry Mc

    Um....and how many trips did Bush take to Crawford? The answer is A LOT! That is a much longer trip. Let's see the Republicans stop taking any vacations, then we can talk...idiots.

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Literati

    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."

    Translation: "I know the answer is no, but I can't say that. So I will let you, the left-friendly media, decide whether or not this is worth pursuing."

    Just another sign that Obama is out of touch with "Main Street America". Just think of all the unemployed middle class families that would love a date night, but have to stay home with their mac 'n' cheese.

    Change you can believe in!!

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. GuyInVA

    To sum up the leftist defense of this taxpayer funded trip: Bush, Crawford, Bush, Texas, Bush, W, Bush, ranch, Dubya, Bush, Crawford, Bush. Does that about cover it?

    Two words from the endless campaign of 2006 – Present: Change. Transparency.

    June 1, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. International Bound

    Unlike the pathetic Bush administration at least he waited a few months before his vacation evening. But, in reality, he should have not done it for the time being with tax payer money. Especially after offering GM 30 Billion more to a failed company.

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. Kurt

    Give me a break. Bush took close to 90 days off during his first year in office, while still being paid...where were u guys screaming "elitist" back then. Yes, the president is paid by taxpayer money. For those of you who skipped college, there's a newsflash for ya.

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. peggyledbetter

    Mr. President Obama can do what he want to do! When lying George was running the Country he did!!!

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  12. NED

    George W. took 487 days vacation and flew AF 1 to "the ranch" 77 times during his presidency. GET OVER IT !!

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. anderson n carolina

    CNN: It's no wonder your ratings are going down.......Let's do a story on how much all of Bush's little jaunts to Texas cost us the last 8 years. How much did his crazy war in Iraq cost us? Cripes the Gop will comparing the use of toilet paper between the Bush administration and Obamas next....and you'll do a news story on it no doubt!

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Jen

    The president has a right to a life with his family. Other presidents have had the same opportunities to chose how to spend their free-time. Bravo to the Obama's and I hope they had a wonderful time.
    Slingers just want to put them down. But I think the president's job is hard on family and relationships and I applaud their dedication to do as they see fit in their marriage. His choices of entertainment are his and part of the job is transportation, security and staffing. We the people have chosen to protect every aspect of his security. This is part of it. He had a weekend big deal! He was back at work this morning!

    I am a proud republican, and I didnt vote for him, but I want his administration to succeed and I think his family values are spot on!

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. debkay

    Looks like the bottom-feeders are out in full force on this one. It's sooooooo sad that 21% of this great nation are so ignorant.

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. paul

    My God Republicans, it's going to take a lot of NYC weekends to equal the amount of spending you did on that little War in the Middle east. What was if for? Oh yes, now I remember – weapons of mass destruction.

    Lot of NYC weekends to equal about a Trillion Dollars spent in Iraq.

    But I guess all of that doesn't count now – does it now?

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Dave

    Almost everyone needs a break, no matter how hard your job is.

    Apparently, the only people that don't need a break are Republicans, whose job it is to whine about everything.

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Astro

    This is so ridiculous. What was The Obamas supposed to do in Washington. Cry, wring their heads, and draw all the curtains because of GM? What could he physically do?
    He's the President of the United States, he has the hardest job in the entire world, he's not allowed to go away for a weekend.

    Especially with Bush's vacation record, and while people were dying in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Bush was too busy vacationing and telling Brownie what a good job he was doing.

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. leeling

    President should also have his(her) own life.
    Mr. and Mrs. Obama just did ordinary couple would do. the secret service was provided by the government and it is not by his choice.
    i don't see there is anything wrong. there is no president should be in white house prison.

    June 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. Not Left or Right but Forward

    Scandalous! I herad that Obama has to have Sweet-n-low in his iced tea, and it costs $0.12/packet more than W's sugar. BFD people – get a clue. No one – no President has ever made it through a term without incurring some expenses for rest and relaxation. He's done more constructively in his first 100-days than Bush did in his 8 years. Where were we economically the second week in January? Where are we now? How did we get here? BUSH, people, get it? Bush was sharpening his ax in Crawford when his buddies were building their 4th and 5th homes on the profits they'd make over his 2 terms in office.

    Let's face it – the lowest paid Major League position player makes about as much as the President.

    June 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. mholt

    I understand the need for security to go with them, but why are we footing the bill for news media to go? Let those guys get their own ride and let their employer pay for it. I also understand that there is a place for them at the White House as well. Does the media pay to use that space? I don't think the tax payers should foot that bill either. I honestly think that having media so close to the Presdient doesn't get us any more accurate (less than accurate is what we always get.) news from the White House. Most news is twisted and convoluted at best and not just for this Administration. The news media doesn't operate with the same honesty and integrity of years past. And having them go on a trip right before GM files for bankruptcy isn't even an issue. GM (aided by the unions, who, in my opinion, have outlived their day) did it to themselves.

    June 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Samilton

    Whatever they can find to discredit the President of the US. Do they realize this is their president too? They can continue to try do so – they will not succeed. "The work Of Remaking American Has Begun" and there is nothing they can do about it! Either get on board or come up with viable solutions/suggestions. In other words, "put up or shut up".

    He's on course and on target!

    June 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Jim

    There are alot of things I could criticize the President over...cap & trade, healthcare etc...Taking the First Lady on a date...you have to be kidding me.

    June 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Natasha Johnson

    you can't be serious! The man can't even go on a date with his wife,. I’m sure on the weekend the republicans and the rest of Washington do things they enjoy. The President is still a human being with a wife and children. Why do he have to be talked about for having a LIFE outside the White House. GM was going to file regardless, what do that have to do with him going on a date. Stop hating on the man because he's taking care of business as the President, Husband, and father.

    June 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. RealityKing

    613,000 Americans laid off last week.

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

    June 1, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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