President Barack Obama traveled the United States in a state-of-the-art, $1.1 million bus as he began his campaign for re-election in 2011. He talked a lot about the faltering economy and the need to boost American manufacturing and create American jobs.
Note the emphasis on "American."
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"We've got folks in America driving Kias and Hyundais. I want to see folks in Korea driving Fords and Chryslers and Chevys," Obama said during an August 2011 campaign stop in Iowa. "I want to sell goods all over the world that are stamped with three words: 'Made in America.'"
And then someone found out that the big fancy Obama bus wasn't actually made in America - at least not in its entirety.
Critics Pounce On Obama Bus
You didn't have to look far or wide to find a critic of the Obama bus, whose shell was designed in Canada. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry took a notable swipe at the president's preferred mode of transportation during a campaign stop in South Carolina.
"The president's been on a jobs tour. As a matter of fact, we kinda crossed - we didn't cross paths, but we were in the same state together, Iowa. He had his big old bus, his big old $1.2 million bus - made in Canada," said Perry, the governor of Texas.
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Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, meantime, took issue for the same reason, quipping in a headline: "Canucklehead Obama bus-ted!" "President Obama is barnstorming the heartland to boost US jobs in a taxpayer-financed luxury bus the government had custom built - in Canada," the paper reported.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, criticized Obama for riding around in a bus that was made partly in another country while the United States continues to endure high unemployment.
"We think this is an outrage that taxpayers of this country would have to foot the bill so the campaigner in chief can run around in his Canadian bus and act as if he's interested in creating jobs in our country that needed them, when he's been ignoring the issue while he's been in the White House," Priebus told reporters.
The Truth About the Obama Bus
Yeah, OK. Critics have a point. But here are all the details about the federal government's procurement of the Obama bus.
The Secret Service actually bought the bus from the Hemphill Brothers Coach Co., which is based in Whites Creek, Tenn., so the president could safely travel the country in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
The coach's shell was designed in Canada, by the Quebec firm Prevost, according to The Vancouver Sun. The bus model, H3-V45 VIP, is 11 feet, 2 inches high and has 505 cubic feet of interior space.
The U.S. government then fitted the Obama bus with "secret communications technology" and flashing police-style red and blue lights on the front and the back, the paper reported. Onboard, too, are codes to the country's nuclear arsenal.
Other Things You Should Know About the Obama Bus
The Secret Service's contract was actually for two armored buses, and for a total of $2,191,960, according to federal government procurement records. That's right. The Republican president nominee also gets to use one.
"We've been overdue for having this asset in our protective fleet for some time," Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Politico. "We've been protecting presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates all the way back to the 1980s using buses during bus tours."
Oh, and one other thing you should know: President George W. Bush campaigned aboard a bus made partly by the same Quebec firm during his 2004 "Yes, America Can" tour across the country.