August 16th, 2011
11:30 AM ET
President Obama is rolling through the Midwest this week on a three-state, campaign-style swing in a brand new, sleek, black, armored bus. It's pretty flashy - no, seriously, it is, as in it has flashing lights like a police vehicle, which were on as the president rolled into his stop in Cannon Falls, Minnesota yesterday.
The bus is one of two the Secret Service bought recently (one in April, one in June) to move "protectees" - President Obama, Vice President Biden, the First Lady and, soon, the Republican presidential nominee, as well as others.
The price tag for each bus: $1.1 million, purchased from Hemphill Brothers Coach Company in Tennessee. A representative declined to answer questions about the bus but the company's website displays a number of coaches for sale, including used buses, one of which was previously the ride of a "popular country music act".
The Secret Service bought the buses in anticipation of the busy 2012 presidential campaign and assisted in the design of the vehicles.
"We felt we were overdue for having an asset like this in our fleet," Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told CNN. "Candidates and presidents have been participating in bus tours since 1980."
In the past, the Secret Service has leased buses, adding protective armor and advanced communications capabilities that must be stripped from the buses to restore them to their original condition before they are returned. It was an expensive practice, costing tens of thousands of dollars per month, Donovan said, and the Secret Service expects the new buses will ultimately save money over time.
So how pimped is this ride? We don't know. The Secret Service won't reveal details and so far members of the press have yet to sneak a peek inside.