Campaigning on the taxpayers' dime
President Barack Obama and Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner speak at the LinkedIn Town Hall meeting in Mountain View, California on Monday, September 26, 2011. (Jim Castel/CNN)
September 27th, 2011
10:41 PM ET

Campaigning on the taxpayers' dime


During President Obama's three-day swing through Washington State, California and Colorado, he fielded questions at a town hall meeting in Silicon Valley and visited a high school in Denver.  Two official events to promote his jobs plan.  Compare that to seven fundraisers he headlined, raising at least $8 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Who paid for the trip?  You did.  And so did we.  Taxpayers are footing the bill for almost the entire trip, which also cost millions of dollars.

It's standard practice for presidents, both Democratic and Republican, to go on predominantly fundraising trips with taxpayer's paying for most of the travel costs.  It's completely legal.  Do some official White House business on the trip and - voila! - the president's re-election campaign and party shoulder very little of the cost.

"Usually, a political party only covers a fraction of the costs of presidential travel, usually in the single digit percentages," says Pete Sepp with the National Taxpayers Union, a nonpartisan nonprofit group against wasteful government spending. "Most of the money raised really comes at a free cost to the parties. They only reimburse for a few hundred thousand dollars, on a given trip, if tax payers are lucky."

The price tag on presidential travel is exorbitant.  Air Force One costs $181,757 per flight hour to operate, according to the Air Force.  There's a C-17 military support plane to fly the president's limousines to his destination, perhaps another if Marine One will be used during the trip.

And the personnel: the salary costs of a Secret Service detail and dozens of White House staffers who also required meals, transportation and hotel rooms.  There are also local security costs like overtime pay for police officers who escort the presidential motorcade or provide security along the travel route.

There is little transparency in determining the cost of presidential travel.  A White House spokesman declined to say how the White House and the DNC divided the cost of Obama's western trip, citing security concerns.  Other administrations have refused on the same grounds. FULL POST

'Titanic struggle' to get Obama reelected?
September 27th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

'Titanic struggle' to get Obama reelected?

Looks like Axe is playing the expectations game in New Hampshire, proclaiming Obama's reelection bid will be a "titanic struggle."

CNN's Rachel Streitfeld has the story:

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – In a blunt admission Tuesday, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod acknowledged the president's re-election bid would be a "titanic struggle" in the face of the slumping economy and unpopular partisan gridlock in Washington.

"We had the wind at our back in 2008," he said. "We don't have the wind at our backs in this election. We have the wind in our face because the American people have the wind in their faces."

Axelrod told a New Hampshire audience the president was "on the right side of the struggle" and would ultimately triumph over his GOP competitors in 2012.


Topics: Uncategorized
September 27th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

Tunisian prime minister to visit White House October 7

Just announced for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

"President Obama will host Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia at the White House on Friday, October 7. During his meeting with the Prime Minister, the President looks forward to discussing America’s strong support for Tunisia’s historic transition to democracy, as well as a broad range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. The President also welcomes the opportunity to highlight the strong bonds of friendship between the American and Tunisian people."

Topics: The News
Oops! White House fails basic geography test
Photo courtesy of Mark Walz/CNN
September 27th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

Oops! White House fails basic geography test

Looks like someone in the White House press office needs to brush up on his or her U.S. geography.

The press office issued credentials to those reporters and photojournalists who are covering the president’s trip this week to Washington state, California, and Colorado. The credential even provides a handy graphic highlighting (in white) which states the president will visit.

The only problem?

Wyoming is highlighted, not Colorado. To be fair, both states are rectangular, nearly identical in size, and stacked next to each other. But we doubt our third grade teachers would buy that!

Obama’s glitzy guest list
September 27th, 2011
09:35 AM ET

Obama’s glitzy guest list

Stars came out in full force for the president last night at a $17,900 per plate fundraiser at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant.

Among those in attendance, according to the pool report:

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenburg
Actor Jack Black,
Actor Danny DeVito,
Actress Rhea Perlman
Producer Jon Landau
Director Judd Apatow
Music producer Quincy Jones
California Gov. Jerry Brown

Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson also hosted a separate fundraising event for the president earlier in the evening at Los Angeles’ House of Blues.

There, Obama remarked that his family is a fan of the hit ABC show:

"I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family. They love that show,” he said.

Topics: The News
September 27th, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Protester disrupts Obama event

An apparently-crazed protester interrupted President Obama Monday during a fundraiser at Los Angeles' House of Blues. Here's how official White House transcript reports what went down:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: The Christian God is the only true living God, the Creator of the heavens and the universe -

AUDIENCE: Booo - Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: Is that his jacket? Is that his jacket? Is that his jacket?

First of all, I agree Jesus Christ is the Lord. I believe in that. I do have a question, though. I think the young man may have left his jacket. (Laughter.) So make sure that he gets his jacket.


THE PRESIDENT: Oh, that’s yours? Hold on, hold on. It’s hers. (Laughter.) And I think somebody’s car keys are in there, too. See, we’re having all kinds of confusion here. Oh, goodness gracious. There you go. All right, I wasn’t sure. Don’t leave your jacket around like that. (Laughter.)

Well, listen, all right, where was I? It is good to be back in LA. (Applause.) Now, here’s the reason I’m here

One remark by the protester, according to the pool reporter present, that did not make it into the White House-released transcript: “Barrack Obama is the antichrist!"

Topics: Uncategorized
POTUS' Day Ahead: Touching down in another purple state
September 27th, 2011
07:59 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Touching down in another purple state

President Obama continues his West Coast swing , departing Los Angeles later Tuesday for Denver where he will host a town-hall event on his jobs plan. Colorado marks yet another swing state the president won in 2008 but is in danger of going red this time around. POTUS has already visited several similarly-situated states as part of his jobs push over the last month, including Ohio (twice), Virginia, and North Carolina.

Full schedule after the jump:

Topics: Daily Schedule