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Posted at 4:24 PM ET, 11/ 4/2010

Obama's India trip clouded by election results and misinformation on cost

By Melissa Bell
A girl stands in front of an Obama poster in India. (AP)

Last year, President Obama marked Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, by lighting a candle at the White House. This year he can do the same in Mumbai when he arrives Friday, the same day that marks one of the largest holidays in India.

He'll be there to reaffirm his commitment to Asian foreign policy, a priority Obama believes should play a key role in his administration's foreign policy.

He departs, however, with the cloud of the midterm election hanging over him, and widespread misinformation about the cost of his trip.

An Indian press report inaccurately said that the trip would cost $200 million a day.

To put it in perspective, says the entire cost of the war effort in Afghanistan costs less than the reported trip to India.

Asked about the Indian media reports, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied Thursday that the presidential visit would be as costly as claimed. "This trip doesn't cost $200 million a day," he told reporters. But he declined to provide his own figures, saying, "I'm not going to get into what it costs to protect the president."

Gibbs also noted that the same reports asserted 34 U.S. warships were being positioned off the Indian coast, a claim he said the Pentagon has denied. "That is simply not true," he said.

Major presidential trips raise the eyebrows of the opposing party, but they will not run the bill up to the equivalent of an NBA basketball team. During Bill Clinton's tenure, his $42.8 million price-tag on his trip to Africa raised cackles. Under George W. Bush, Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) asked the General Accounting Office to investigate how much taxpayers spent on trips around the country for GOP fundraisers (The Post's Dana Milbank said an estimate came to around $15.7 million).

"Whenever a president travels, he or she takes a mini-White House with them, from bulletproof limousines to gaggles of aides. This can come in awfully handy when trouble happens," David Jackson writes in USA Today. "But $200 million a day? Not even close."

By Melissa Bell  | November 4, 2010; 4:24 PM ET
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The Whitehouse might deny the cost of 200 million per day for the trip but not disclosing the actual costs lends a lot of credibility to the 200 million. It will be a new record for the cost of a trip by an American president. The 40 planes make that a fact. They won't be flying empty.
Obama has set all kind of spending records with other people's money and there is not much left that can hurt his image. A new spending record is in the making.
Besides that Obama needs a lot of protection because when he was in Indonesia he was a Muslim. Since he claims to be a Christian nowand left the Muslim faith, it is the duty of Muslims to punish him in accordance with Shariah law. That means Muslims are obligated to kill him.

Posted by: duif100 | November 4, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

NO NO sorry Mellissa Bell, I have firm confirmation from very reliable sources, that this trip will cost $200million/day, so please, pull the plug and let this out.

Posted by: rdb2 | November 4, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

....or perhaps, only $199.99 million!

Posted by: rdb2 | November 4, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Just add those numbers to the Obama legacy.If Clinton's trip was purported to be almost 43 million, then probably the 200 million figure is probably accurate considering the the time frame involved since the Clinton trip and the increased safety this president requires. This regime likes to maintain as much secrecy as it can afford to purchase.

Posted by: gdpbridges | November 4, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Melissa, even if the India trip is not going to cost 200 mil. per day the fact remains that he is still going and it does cost a lot of money. In the 23 or so months Mr. Obama has been in office he and his wife have taken many vacations. Michelle went to Spain and 1 week later she and her husband went to Martha's Vineyards’ for another vacation (7).
America is in trouble and we are not recovering as Mr. Obama claims. The dollar is becoming worth less and less and food is going up while Americans are losing their jobs right and left partly due to companies who use India to "Outsource" to get cheaper labor. Is this really a good time to visit historic landmarks and sightseeing under the cover of looking for jobs in India. Spending whatever money here in America and supporting hotels and the economy here to me would be a better use of Mr. Obama's time and money. Visiting poor children here in the US would also be a better use of Mrs. Obama's time and Federal Tax-Payer funds.
I really do not believe that our current President got the message of the elections,stop spending Federal funds on things that drive America further into debt.

Posted by: psyborg | November 4, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

gdpbridges: clinton's $43 million was for the entire trip, not the daily cost. Divide by the number of days and it's closer to $3.6 million per day.

The white house claims that the daily cost for the Indian trip is about the same as for Bush's trips. That makes sense.

It is a reflection of the innumeracy of much of the American public that they they don't immediately realize that $200 million/day defies common sense and can't possibly be true.

Posted by: marving | November 5, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

When is Dana Milbank going to correct his Wednesday lie in saying that Fox had only one democrat on for its election coverage?

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | November 5, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

"The Indian news organization also reported that the U.S. was sending 34 warships to protect Obama. Gibbs also noted that the same reports asserted 34 U.S. warships were being positioned off the Indian coast, a claim he said the Pentagon has denied. "That is simply not true," he said."

The air craft carrier is the USS Harry S Truman, a component of the 5th Fleet. The Truman is a Nimitz class aircraft carrier and it is currently conducting "security operations" off the coast of Mumbai, India in the Gulf of Arabia. The Truman is on station with it's full battle group. The Truman has been on station for at least 6 days waiting for the arrival of the President.

Why would NDTV (New Delhi Television Ltd, India's largest broadcaster) risk its reputation by making multiple reports about the President's trip without confirming its sources. The information the Adminstration is now denying original came from the White House Press Office.

Read the Pentagon statement carefully, ""I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy, some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier, in support of the president’s trip to Asia,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said."

No one bothered to ask, "Is there a Naval Task force on station off the Coast of Mumbai, India? Does that task force or battle group have an aircraft carrier?".

The only thing worse than a pseudo journalist, is a lazy psuedo journalist.

The Pentagon did not deny the presence of the USS Truman and its battle group off the coast of Mumbai, India - they are just claiming that its presence there has nothing to do with the President's trip.

I'm not buying that one?

Both the Nimitz and its battle group are there, off the coast of Mumbai, India. I've posted a picture of flight operations that are less than 48 hours old on mcaueysworld at

Posted by: mcauleysworld | November 6, 2010 4:21 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing the depths that Republicans will sink to. The young people of today have just about had it...this guy explains us pretty well:

Posted by: scathingres | November 6, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Obama’s $200 million/day India Trip: Amid Administration Denials 2 US Navy Carrier Battle Groups Cruise Arabian Sea Off The Coast Of Mumbai (Bombay) India. USS Harry S. Truman & USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Groups Tasked To Conduct “Security Operations” in the Arabian Sea.

The question isn't whether the Carrier Battle Groups are in the Arabian Sea or not, the question is whether the "security operations" that they are conducting are related to the Presidential visit or not.

Visit McAuleysWorld on Wordpress for photos of the flight operations off the USS Harry Truman and the USS Abraham Lincoln along with maps of the Arabian Sea Operations Area. The flight op photos are taken from the DOD (Department of Defense) DVIDS (Digital Video Image Distribution System) and confirm the time and place of operations. The photos include links (you'll need to cut and paste them, sorry) to the original DVIDS documents.

How much does it cost to run two aircraft carrier battle groups for a day? How much does the "shore" personal and "land based aircraft" cost per day. (40 land based aircraft) The advance team (500 in Mumbai, no figure given for how large the advance team in New Dehli was) was in Mumbai 10 days prior to the President's arrival. Why isn't the Adminstration being honest with the American people?

Posted by: mcauleysworld | November 7, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

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