President Obama Saturday commissioned Air Force One to travel to a campaign rally near Richmond, Virginia, a location only 90 miles away from the White House, highlighting the large expenses being borne by taxpayers as the president traverses the country to campaign and raise cash for a campaign that is failing to meet its fundraising goals.
The cost of flying Air Force One is currently about $180,000 per hour, according to ABC News. Only a portion of the cost is borne by the campaign.
With a cruising speed of around 130 mph, Obama’s Marine One chopper could easily have had the president at his location in 45 minutes at far lower cost. Obama had to use Marine One anyway to ferry him from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, where he boarded his jet.
It’s possible there is some kind of security purpose to using Air Force One instead of Marine One, even though Obama flies his chopper several times a week. What’s more, Obama took Marine One on a trip of similar length in 2009 to Dover, Delaware. George W. Bush used Marine One to ferry him to the Richmond area in September 2003.
But certainly, Air Force One is a more convenient and comfortable method of travel that makes a more impressive entrance to a city hosting a presidential appearance.
Either way, Saturday’s trip is emblematic of the approach of president whose frequent use of Air Force One for campaign purposes has drained money from taxpayers while filling his campaign coffers. In June, Obama held 33 fundraisers – about eight times the number held by Bush during his reelection effort in June 2004 – traveling literally from coast to coast to supply his operations with desperately needed cash.