President Obama and his spokespersons insist that his bus tour is not a campaign function but rather a “listening” tour during which he is promoting American jobs. So how much of a disconnect is it that he’s barnstorming the heartland in a taxpayer-financed luxo-bus made in Canada?
The $1.1 million vehicle, one of two that Quebec-based Prevost sold the government, has been tricked out by the Secret Service with state-of-the-art security features and creature comforts.
It’s a VIP H3-45 model, the company’s top of the line, and is used by major traveling rock bands.
The bus was ordered by the Secret Service in July 2010 and delivered two months ago.
The feds bought the two coaches for $2.2 million from Hemphill Brothers Coach, based in Tennessee. It installed custom interior upgrades into the Prevost shell, which accounted for about half the cost.
The contract lists the country of origin as Canada and place of manufacture as “outside U.S. – Trade Agreements,” a possible reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Hemphill wouldn’t comment on the bus. But an ad on its Web site for a similar bus costing $100,000 less than what has been dubbed “Greyhound One” boasts: “This coach is appointed with the finest materials and the latest in high tech electronics and was built for a top entertainer to travel efficiently without losing the luxuries of home.
“It is the perfect coach for entertainers, sports stars, NASCAR drivers, executive travel, or anyone accustomed to the very best.”
The LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm comments at Top of the Ticket:
Because the country hasn’t heard enough of Obama calling on Congress to do things and his job approval touched a new low of 39%, he laid on a three-day campaign swing through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois this week at taxpayer-expense because the White House declared it an official trip.Obama Eating Ice Cream cone Dewitt Iowa 8-16-11
Because Obama wanted to hear from regular Americans, he’s encased in an armored Darth Vader bus with heavily-tinted windows so no one can see him looking out at regular Americans.
And as the commander-in-chief meanders through the Heartland in this black vehicle, the entire road in both directions is cleared of regular Americans for the president’s entourage and motorcade to pass by safely.
At his speaking engagements, Obama stressed the need to extend payroll tax cuts and to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and other union-made infrastructure kinds of stuff. Also some free-trade agreements. This was a repetition of what he had said on the first day of his Grand Ground Tour.
On his 938th day in office President Obama also said he would soon have a completed jobs plan. Maybe early fall, something like that. And he complained, “We could do even more if Congress is willing to get in the game.”
Tomorrow with all this heavy work in his rear-view mirror, the president is scheduled to join his family on Martha’s Vineyard for a nine-day vacation.
The president is so stressed out from the hard work of not presenting a budget in over two years and talking about a jobs plan he has yet to put together that he’s got to get away from it all in posh Martha’s Vinyard. Because the Obamas must be tired of boring old Camp David, which is so yesterday. Oh well, at least it wasn’t Hawaii.