Obama's India trip clouded by election results and misinformation on cost
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, FactCheck.org 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."
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