As I mentioned in the OOTD today, Barack Obama promised a new focus on jobs for about the 15th time in less than three years, shortly after the conclusion of the debt-ceiling deal. As part of that new focus, Obama plans a bus tour — an unusual mode of travel for an American President, but SOP for a presidential candidate working the crowds to bolster support. But when White House reporters quizzed press secretary Jay Carney about whether Obama or taxpayers would foot the bill for this whirlwind tour, Carney responded that “the air of cynicism is quite thick,” as CNS News reports:
CNSNews.com asked Carney, “Is that a campaign event or a presidential event?
Carney answered, “Negative. That is an official event.”
CNSNews.com followed, “So it is being funded by taxpayers in battleground states?”
Carney responded, “He’s the president of the United States.”
Another reporter followed up about whether there was a political nature to the trip.
“The air of cynicism is quite thick,” Carney shot back. “The idea that the president of the United States should not venture forth into the country is ridiculous.”
The reporter said, “I didn’t say that.”
Carney said, “No, but you implied it in your question. It is absolutely important for the president – whoever that person is, in the past or in the future – to get out and hear from people in different communities.”
Something’s getting thick, but it’s not the air of cynicism. Presidents do make appearances throughout the country during their terms; it’s one of the perks of the office, and one reason why incumbent Presidents are so hard to beat in an election. However, they don’t usually travel by bus. They normally use Air Force One, which has a standard security profile as well as the capacity to allow a President to perform his job while away from the White House. In order to accomplish this three-day bus tour of the Midwest, the taxpayers will have to foot the bill for re-inventing the wheel as well as the rest of the costs.
Last year, this wouldn’t have been as big an issue. That’s because Obama hadn’t officially launched his re-election campaign. The campaign raised $49 million for itself in the first quarter and another $38 million for the DNC. Getting in a bus on a jobs tour sounds a lot like preparing the ground for later fundraisers more than a job-related duty. This is the reason that most incumbents wait for as long as possible to launch re-election campaigns, but Obama and his team wanted to make a run at a billion-dollar haul for this election … and this from the candidate who sang hosannas about public funding of presidential campaigns, too.