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

September 24th, 2011
03:49 PM ET

Obama tees off with Clinton

President Obama hit the links with former President Clinton Saturday at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.  Rounding out the foursome were White House chief of staff Bill Daley and Doug Band, a Clinton aide.

The presidency and aging
August 4th, 2011
09:54 AM ET

Is 50 the new 40? Apparently not for commanders in chief

As President Obama celebrates his milestone 50th birthday today, put together a photo gallery of how Mr. Obama along with several of his predecessors showed the physical signs of age after several years in the high pressure job.  Take a look!

January 21st, 2011
06:44 PM ET

Poll: Is a Clinton 'third term' a bad thing?


Newt Gingrich is calling it Bill Clinton’s “third term”—all the Clintonistas now in top spots at the Obama White House. After struggling over how to deal with a stubborn economy—as well as stubborn Republicans—the president has turned to some of the familiar faces who helped Bill Clinton win the day dealing with both. Is Barack Obama hoping some of the Clinton magic will rub off?

Nobody can forget that super-charged moment when Bill Clinton came back to the White House—after the November “shellacking”—to give Mr. Obama some of his famous political advice. Ever since– the pundits have been buzzing with comparisons—talk of “triangulation” and “deficit politics”—but how much is the Clinton influence shaping the president’s next moves? And is that good or bad? Tell us what you think….

Topics: People • President Clinton • President Obama • The Buzz • The Visuals
Bill Clinton takes over WH podium
December 10th, 2010
05:48 PM ET

Bill Clinton takes over WH podium

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to the podium in the White House Briefing Room today.

The visit followed a meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, where they discussed the tax cut agreement that Obama reached with Republicans earlier this week.

Before turning the podium over to his predecessor, President Obama labeled the meeting with Clinton 'terrific' and said he thought the 42nd president had some valuable insights, given that he had presided over 'good as an economy as we had ever seen in our liftimes.'

"I don't believe there is a better deal out there' Clinton told reporters who had quickly assembled in the Brady Briefing Room.

"We have got to pull together' Clinton said, 'because we cannot afford to have the kind of impass we had last time...we have to keep this thing going and accelerate it's pace.  I think this is the best available option.'

Before Clinton finished taking questions, President Obama bolted, explaining that he had been keeping the first lady waiting for 'over half an hour.'

Clinton retorted with "I don't want to make her mad!'

Click here to hear President Clinton.

Topics: President Clinton • Tax cuts • White House
Pres. Clinton, Obama to huddle
December 10th, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Pres. Clinton, Obama to huddle

(CNN) – Still fresh off an Election Day drubbing, President Obama plans to huddle with another ex-president whose first midterm election resulted in massive defeats for his party.

Obama will meet with former President Bill Clinton in a closed-door meeting at the White House at 3 p.m. ET Friday. It remains unclear what the two men will discuss, though it's expected the disappointing result for Democrats last month and the proper way forward will be a key topic of the discussions.

You can find the complete story on CNN's Political Ticker.

White House disputes cost of Asia trip
November 5th, 2010
01:34 PM ET

White House disputes cost of Asia trip

Washington (CNN) Presidential travel overseas can be expensive, but $200 million dollars a day? Not quite.

A report from the Press Trust of India citing an unnamed source inside the Indian government claimed President Obama's trip to India beginning Friday is costing American taxpayers $200 million dollars a day. The report was picked up Thursday by radio talk-show hosts, conservative blogs, and repeated by Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann on CNN, creating a wave of criticism about Mr. Obama's ten-day Asia trip, even before he crossed the Atlantic.

Citing security concerns, the White House won’t tell us how much the trip is going cost but they said the report is flat wrong.


Topics: AF1 • Asia • India • President Clinton • President Obama • The News • White House
October 29th, 2010
05:55 PM ET

Henry in the House: Meek story shows Dem fears of Senate wipeout

Washington (CNN) - The point that many people seem to be missing in the Florida Senate saga is that this whole mess actually has very little to do with Rep. Kendrick Meek or the Sunshine State - it's all about a much broader fear among senior Democrats that they may be about to lose control of the chamber.

There are some fascinating inside details I've been able to piece together about how and why this Meek story exploded into the public

For the complete Henry in the House, check out