Correction Apparently the President did ride the bus between the stops on the bus tour, but flew the buses to the midwest from Washington DC and back again.
To facilitate Obama’s “bus tour” of midwest America, the Secret Service bought two large buses and set about customizing them to fit the security needs of the president. The buses sport bulletproof black windows, puncture-proof tires, five-inch thick doors, and their own oxygen supplies (and probably an assortment of other goodies the Secret Service is keeping classified for obvious reasons).
And the Secret Service had to train agents specially to drive them. “Agents will be taught to back up at very high rates of speed using just the mirrors on either side,” says Ronald Kessler, author of In The President’s Secret Service. “It really takes guts to do that.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the buses were necessary because “The president needs to get out in the country and meet with real folks in real places.”
“A plane [the size of Air Force One] is hard to get into small communities.”
But here’s the thing: Apparently President Obama only rode the buses for a couple of miles at a time, spending the rest of the time flying from community to community in Air Force One. What’s more, the buses were flown from stop to stop as well. It’s normal practice for the President’s entire motorcade to be loaded up on cargo planes and flown from destination to destination. The buses were just a new part of that motorcade.
But why wouldn’t the presidential limousine have sufficed? Or one of the other armored vehicles that routinely travel with the President? Apparently because the President wanted the imagery of a bus. And buses are what he got.
To be fair, the buses are apparently going to be re-used by the Secret Service. “The second bus is expected to be used by the Republican presidential candidate and both will eventually be used for visiting dignitaries and future officeholders and candidates,” reports the CS Monitor.
Be that as it may, it all seems rather extravagant for a nation teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession and facing a national debt crisis.