Obama: Air Force One and the Beast
Senator Obama owned a gas-guzzling Chrysler 300C until he was called out on it by Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. in May 2007. ”I would love to invite him to our Chicago assembly plant, which is in his state, where we make a vehicle that’s more fuel-efficient than the one he’s currently driving,” Ford said at a policy conference. Obama’s press secretary at the time assured green voters that he had sold the car — which gets 17 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway — and replaced it with a Ford Escape Hybrid. During the campaign, Obama rode in a Secret Service Chevy Suburban.As president, Obama inherited one of the largest personal transportation fleets in the world, which includes an eight-ton Cadillac with bulletproof glass and eight-inch armored plating known as “the Beast,” a helicopter dubbed Marine One, and two Boeing 747 planes (with tail codes 28000 and 29000), better known as Air Force One (the call sign is only used when the president is onboard). According to the Los Angeles Times, Obama flew in Air Force One 172 times during 2010. At around $180,000 per flight hour, that adds up to more than $100 million.
Romney: Southwest Airlines, or So He Claims
Despite his enormous fortune, Romney can point back to the white Chevy Caprice station wagon, complete with wood paneling, that served as the family car for many, many years, and was affectionately named by the Romney boys the “white whale.” Painting a vaguely blue-collar version of Romney is one of his campaign’s highest priorities, which is probably why they’ve been blanketing the media with mentions of coach air travel. “I was on a flight this morning, a Southwest flight from Phoenix to, let’s see, to Burbank, and — no, it was Orange County,” Mr. Romney name-dropped during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. (Romney has so far spent about $14,000 flying Southwest.) The Times wrote in late September that aides to Romney have been trying to make the case that “the Southwest flying, self-deprecating, penny-pinching guy is the real Mitt, the one they know in private, and if anything, he just wants a little public credit for some of the ‘regular dude things’ he has always done.” The campaign has as of mid-October spent about $134,000 flying coach — but recent financial disclosures show $234,000 was spent hiring private planes, including a leather-interior Cessna eight-seater worth $5.8 million.