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June 1st, 2009
09:26 AM ET

The Price of Presidential Date Night

The first couple, known for having weekend date nights, had an extravagant one on Saturday night in New York City.

According to a White House spokesman, Obama said he was taking his wife to the Big Apple "because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."

Instead of taking the larger Air Force One plane for their trip north, the Obamas took a smaller plane, a G-3, which became Air Force One once he boarded.  The press traveled in a separate aircraft, a G-5, and a G-3 carried White House support staff, according to the pool report.

RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho, blasted the couple's visit. "As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan’s theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills," she said. "Have a great Saturday evening – even if you’re not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense."

Broadway tickets- $96.50 apiece

Three planes- $24,000 each

Presidential Date Night- priceless

source: NY Post

Filed under: Nicole Lapin • Tony Harris
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    What was the cost of the security entourage for this excursion? Also curious who pays for "date night"? Does the President bear any of the expense, or was this a taxpayer treat?

    June 1, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  2. charlene

    omg i know the critics are saddened with such a cheap date they act as if it cast thousands of dollars to take his wife out.i do hope they had a good time well deserved night out.

    June 1, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  3. George

    Dear RNC,

    The president is paid $500,000 a year as his salary as president. What he does with that money is his own agenda. GM filing for bankruptcy is it's own fault. I mean producing hummers when gas was $4 a gallon. They need forced restructuring to fix their problems. In speaking of problems, fix your own problems and either shut up dick and rush or kick out powel.

    June 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  4. donna tobin

    Re: the N.Y. theatre
    This president is getting things done and appears to woking working hard. I hope they had a beautiful evening.

    June 1, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  5. Linda

    somehow it does not seem right to be spending the taxpayers money for POTUS to have a date night. people are starving, losing their homes and more while we pay for his date night?

    June 1, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  6. David A Whitaker

    Hey Tony, let the President and his wife have a night for themselves. The only different with President Obama night out is he told everyone that he was going to do it. Also it shows the young children, the things you have to do to have a good marriage.

    Martinsburg, WV

    June 1, 2009 at 11:15 am |


    June 1, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  8. Rob Sayles

    Oh please, big money companies and their high paid execs have taken their employees to the laundry over the last several years. I wonder how many date nights the Enron upper crust had while their company was going under. If these troubled company's moves were watched the way President Obama's are, maybe we (the country) wouldn't be shutting doors and hemorrhaging jobs. You wanna cry about costs? Between sobs, understand that the cost of expecting people/companies to do the right thing cannot rest singularly on the office of the president. All true capitalists must think beyond how much they can put in their personal wallet.

    June 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  9. GRADY

    Does America, believe that a BLACK couple don't show their love and caring for each other? Is it strange that a couple don't let their careers over shawdow their personal life?

    June 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  10. Evan Edwardsen

    I think GM should make compressed air cars that run on steam engines. I think they would improve the company and the enviroment.

    June 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Susan

    I hope they had a wonderful evening and enjoyed a few hours with one another!!

    For the republicans, WE THE PEOPLE paid for a lunch where the only topic was changing the name of the democratic party!! That fee also included airfare, hotels, meals, mics.

    The pot can't call the kettle black for the train is running on the same track.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  12. Walter

    GM shouldnt'nt been making cheap cars and people need to start paying their bills first instead of spending on beer and other recreational substance. Its not his falt G-Dub didnt have a social life.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  13. angel benedict

    let the president have his night out.Everyone needs that time with their wives.Everything he does the media is on his back.let him live his life. If he wants to take his wife out then let that be his buisness not the country.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  14. momcarolrn

    Stop the hypocrisy. Leave them alone.

    June 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  15. steven

    What a burn to the working class, he spent in one night what some people make in a year. He is not the change we need. He is not getting anything done but turning us into a Marxist state. That change you can believe in!

    June 1, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  16. Andrea

    Ah, she's just jealous! I think it's nice. At least he doesn't go to Texas every weekend. Nobody ever talked about how much that cost!

    June 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  17. steven

    I stand corrected, over 250,000.00 for a night out? that is disgraceful, a slap in the face to every working person in this country!

    June 1, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  18. AP in AZ

    I posted earlier under the original story that GOP is pathetic and getting more so with every passing day. They conveniently never said anything about "W" who along with Cheney is most responsible for the economic misery that some have posted about and who went to Crawford TX numerous times and for weeks at a time. I'm sure he didn't fly Southwest!!

    This followup story did trigger a new thought for me. If we want to "economize" on Presidential trips to give the guy some much needed time away from his 24 X 7 job to recharge his batteries, how about we ditch the press corps?? Was that second plane for the reporters really necessary? All the major media outlets have NYC bureaus or are actually headquartered there. If there had been "breaking news" while the President was in NYC, they could have easily sent correspondents in a cab to cover the story. I don't have any problem with the third plane carrying staff...God forbid there should be a crisis while he's out of the Oval Office, obviously all those people have to tag along.

    June 2, 2009 at 5:59 am |
  19. Cliff

    I did not vote for Obama for exactly what has happened to our future resulting from a horrendous national debt. That being said, what's wrong wuth the president taking in a show? Lincoln did it. He was a Republican. Isn't it enough change in his life that he will never even take a walk on the street again? I'm glad he sets an example of a loving husband. What's that worth after Clinton?

    June 2, 2009 at 7:16 am |
  20. Barbin

    The plane carrying the media representatives didn't need to go. That would save $24,000–but then I understand the press pays their own way so why is the cost included in the expenses? I'm so glad the Pres. wants to go on a date with his wife. How refreshing. A small thing to help the Pres. be a family man while dealing with all he has to deal with. I'm also glad he found time to go to his daughter's soccer game.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  21. dan in Tucson

    Not a good example to be set for the millions of Americans who have to forgo date night because they can't pay their bills. Doesn't make me smile and say 'what a cute couple'. Makes me say 'I wish I could take my wife to a movie'. I think it is great that he enjoys quality time with his family, just not on my tab – please.

    June 2, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  22. Sherwood

    Over 12 million Americans have lost their jobs, many of us (through no fault of our own) are in upside down mortgages and the President thinks it fine to spend $100,000 of our tax payer dollars on a Date Night? (It is pointed out here that is 1/4 of his yearly salary) Give us a break, it is a callous and egregious disregard of the on ground reality that all of us are living in right now. What is next, are we going to pay for his GANJA Night at the White House...zipped lips invited guests only?

    June 2, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  23. Charlie Erickson

    It's amazing how so many people want to attack, blast others, put people down, and gripe and moan, especially when it's mostly unnecessary. It seems to be part of our country's recent "no can do" attitude. Negativity is the order of the day, it seems. It's not so much a "glass is half-empty" mentality, but more of a "pick the glass up and pour the rest out" mindset.

    The President and First Lady have had their lives cut off from the rest of the world (for the most part). Everyone knows how stressful being the President of the USA is. Give 'em a break! This outing should be viewed as a positive thing. It'll promote family values, togetherness, tourism, and show that getting out and enjoying oneself/ourselves is a good thing. It also shows that maybe the President really doesn't have "too much on his plate", and is in control of things, if he has the time to do this.

    The personel involved would've been paid, whether they did this "mission", or sat on their duffs. The only real cost was fuel and a few other incidentals. So what? That's the price the nation must pay for protecting our leader & family.

    The politicians are just creating a problem/situation, where there is none. It's all political partisan maneuvering.

    Let's all wise up to the reality that the American public is being manipulated, by the whims of the two party system.

    Also from Martinsburg, WV

    June 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  24. RJ

    Well well well, looks like Obama has already fallen into the good ole boys club! Obama is not showing the American people what he has been telling them now for awhile to conserve and volunteer in your community! Seems like thats just for us and not him! All we have done so far in reality is just change faces in the white house! Hes no better than the idiot who just left office.

    June 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  25. RJ

    I knew it was too good to be true an actual public offical not taking advantage of the system! The problem with this country is the system! I hope for the sake of all Americans Obama is a one termer as should all Presidents be! All public offices should be one term! Our system was originally set up for people to be public servants not well now I`m in screww everyone else! People were to serve their terms as elected officals and that was it. They werent supposed to include their families as their families had nothing to do with serving the people! You ran for office because you wanted to help the people not yourself!

    June 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  26. Robert in El Mirage

    Another example of Obama holding others to a standard he's not willing to live in his own life. Has anyone reading this been invited to one of his many White House parties or like me you just paid for them?

    June 2, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  27. Rick Boulware

    Do we really expect the Obama family to confine themselves to the White House? There is nothing wrong with the President taking a night off to go out on the town. Lest we forget: Bush took over 2 years of vacation during the 8 years he was such a destructive president. Now, Americans, get over it. Obama is neither white nor Republican, much to the chagrin of some, but he has been an excellent leader thus far. And I'm glad I voted for a winner!

    June 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  28. Dawn-Atlanta

    Barak Obam is President Obama so in that light I see nothing wrong with his taking his wife out for the evening.
    He did pay for his dinner and theatre tickets.
    Because he is the President of the United States of America, how else would he travel. He is required to have proper travel and security as President. Why would we want anything else?

    June 2, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  29. Daniel IC3, USN

    I don't see what the big deal is, President Obama has been working around the clock since he's been in office. I remember Former President George W. Bush spending tons of time at his ranch, and never heard anything about that wasteful spending. I beleive the first family is allowed to have a night out they both deserve it.

    June 2, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  30. James Frank

    I live about 40 miles from George Bush's ranch in Texas. During his presidency he made dozens of trips from Washington to Crawford...sometimes to cut brush and clear his pastures...all at the cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayers, so much so that he was questioned and criticized about how little time he spent in Washington and how much time he spent at the ranch.

    There was never a whisper of criticism by these same right wing conservative "Obama Criticizers" about the taxpayer's money being wasted.

    Their racism is showing. Obama as president is a stone in their shoe. This latest round of outrage about the Obamas' night out is just another desperate attempt to create an issue where none exists

    June 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  31. ernie

    I really think president Obama could be a great president if given the chance. People just needs to give him room and some time. But about him taking his wife out on a date is fine, but why does us Americans have to pay for it. I have a hard enough time just getting from pay day to pay day. If they want to do whatever with their personal life have at it, but they should pay for it out of their pocket, not ours.

    June 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  32. Shorty

    Yes it cost a lot for security and it's a shame we have to have it. But why should a President and his wife be captive in the White House? I have no issue with any President taking his wife out. They need their own time as well as the rest of us. I

    June 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  33. AL

    It is so ridiculous that people make such a big deal about the president's night out with the first lady.....what about all the money spent by the previous government on useless wars and their stupid governing that has put the country in such a bottomless pit of debt......I think people should come up with solution to make the country better

    June 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  34. Elisabeth Granata

    Is the President not allowed to have a life?
    Why didn't the media go after W ?

    June 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  35. Joey B

    Really? Is this the most pressing political topic out there to cover? You folks at CNN (and eternally angry conservatives everywhere) make me laugh... Can the man not spend time with his wife? Barack has arguably the toughest job on the face of the planet and I personally would be willing to pay for his date night out with his wife. That said I am a recent college graduate who makes little more than minimum wage at a coffee shop. I just wish conservative America would care about more than their pocket books for a change. Remember folks, the idolization of money is heavily scrutinized by the Bible. Even if you donnot agree with his politics EVERYONE out there must understand the need to spend quality time with one's family. I for one want the leader of the free world getting a little action every now and then.

    June 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  36. Pasquinel Cobra

    Anyone with common sense should have know that regardless of where The President of the United States goes the cost will be high.
    I for one think is refreshing to have a President who can relate to and
    not be afraid to come in contact with the people he is charged to protect and serve. As for the cost, get real, anyone who felt up to the task had the same opportunity to run for the office he now holds!!!
    Sour Grapes perhaps. It seems to me President Obama has done more in the short time he has been in office than Bush-Cheney did over the course of eight years. Good Job Mr. President, you and the Misses deserve your nights out.

    June 2, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  37. Karen

    Well, y'know, that price tag would drop leaps and bounds if the press would stay back. Buuuuuut they wouldn't do that now, would they? That wouldn't be "right". No one attacks them for driving up the cost of the presidents few outings. It isn't like he has a choice of how to get somewhere and he and Michelle are young and active people instead of old fogies. They deserve some fun. I didn't even begrudge Bush this kind of thing (or wouldn't of if he had ever gone out). I did take exception to 4 week vacations at the ranch, but had he gone out, instead for a NIGHT to unwind, that would have been totally acceptable.

    June 3, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  38. sylvia busey


    June 3, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  39. Rolo

    It must be nice to catch a Broadway show and a fancy night out while so many good hard working Americans are unemployed and are having difficulties finding a job, all the while our country is going right down the crapper. And why are we giving more taxpayer money to the major auto companies we already gave them billions? And now they want more and then they are just gonna go bankrupt anyways. There goes many more Billions right down the drain and then they will lay off their workers anyways. Looks to me like the President needs to stay at home more often and start saving taxpayer money instead of spending it.

    June 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  40. CaliGuy

    If someone reaches the pinnacle of being the President of the United States I say live it up!!! And what better way to do it by supporting the Arts!

    June 3, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  41. Evon

    I think of Newt, Palin, Chenney,Voight and Steele as comic cartoon characters, too funny for words. To take them seriously would mean they are all potential straight jacket candidates.

    June 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  42. Anna Parker

    I do NOT approve of the "date night" on our dime. Mr. O should be thinking of taking care of the mess that our country is in. Also resent the fact that this is becoming a "four year world tour" for the "O" family including granny. When he the "pres" goes on supposed business meetings – leave the family home. I am sure there are many llittle girls that would love to go to Paris for their birthdays – but there isn't enough money to go to the local movie because mother & father are out of work. Get down to reality and do your job and leave the family out of the limelight – I am sick of seeing them getting on the plane or helicoptor to go out on a date!!!!!
    P,S. I am a democrate and in my 70's......

    June 13, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  43. Anna Parker

    I do not care if you put this is on the blog or not – I just wanted to "vent".

    June 13, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  44. Terri Davis

    I am so sick of the wastefulness of this administration. Here is an email I received about date night:

    Subject: The Date

    First, let me say that I've moved three presidents up to now and I've seen incredible waste. But, the "new" guy really takes the cake. I don't have an issue with the President promising his wife dinner and a show or that he even takes his wife out.

    But, when I saw the news say that the date cost $24,000, here's what you DON'T know.

    Three days before "dinner" a C-17 flew Marines and the helicopter maintenance equipment to JFK Airport .

    The day before "dinner" I flew the US Seacet Service and the motorcade to JFK Airport

    Our crew of 5 spent two days and nights at the Hilton in Times Square. My hotel bill: $621.66 plus $64 a day in per diem The USSS guys were at a different Hilton in NYC, so figure that cost another $14,000 (or so) plus per diem. The Marines had to have cost as much and were there four days, so figure another $55,000 plus per diem (for 44 Marines).

    We were supposed to fly the motorcade back and go home, but the Air Force was so short C-17's that we were re-tasked to take the motorcade back, return to JFK and take the helicopter back to Quantico .

    When we got back to JFK, while the pilot was turning the plane around to park, he noticed a rotor blade sticking out of the hangar where the helicopter was parked and informed me that either it wasn't ready to transport or it was flying home. After shutting down I walked over to the hangar and to my surprise I find FIVE helicopters, not ONE.

    We're obviously not transporting five big helicopters. I went and talked to the Marines guarding the "fleet" and found that they were flying all five helicopters home and we were only transporting the Marines and the maintenance equipment. After talking to the Marine(s) in charge, I was told that the White House requested FIVE helicopters. The Marines told me that they spent all morning trying to figure out how much it cost them to come and said they figured it cost them $140,000 to stay there
    (I don't know where they came up with that)and the trip's total had to be bout $1,000,000.

    We heard that the President didn't use Air Force One (the 747) so I asked if he came in on one of the 757's. I was told that he came in on THREE Air Force Lear jets. So, date night consisted of: 2 C-17's flying three missions, 3 Lear jets, 5 Helicopters, Presidential Motorcade, 44 Marines, more than 20 USSS personnel on our plane. Who knows what it cost the NYPD and NY Port Authority (at the airport) in overtime.

    These are the same people that chastised the automobile CEO's for using their aircraft. It further proves that the media only use the facts that make the President look good and hide any facts that will detract from his persona..

    Is this the 'change' we expected? Talk with friends and those who are not blinded by charisma. Many folks I know who voted for Obama are very disappointed and sorry they did so. The Emperor's clothes on a grand scale. "Transparency"? Remember, 2010 is just around the corner. All we have to do is survive long enough.

    August 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm |
  45. Susan

    Since when has the American public become so concerned with the President, his family, and the amount of money they spend? A decent answer can't be "our economy", for we've had troubles in the past. The answer is the color of his skin and the fact that he is such a newcomer. Were JFK and his family put through the same? Did Jackie and her children feel the need to "dress down" in order to keep the public happy? What about the Johnson's, Nixon's, Reagen's, Bush's, & Clinton's? The Obama's give less parties & have been encouraged by Nancy Reagan to give more dinners. For God's sake the public complained about the dog, activity set, and garden. How much did our last President cost us in air fare? How many trips to and from Camp David and/or Texas? Before someone sends out such an email, check your facts and compare them with past Presidents and families. Also, don't forget to figure in the cost of inflation. Surely that isn't another fault of the Obama's & family.

    August 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  46. Nick

    Come on people get real ! We all know when former President George Bush when on a date with his wife, he polished up his cowboy boots himself strapped on his six shooter, saddled his own horse, grabbed a handful of peanuts, helped Laura up to ride behind him and off they went. Total cost to the tax payers zero dollars! He didnt need security or the press following along he's a Texan. Thats how redicious this is.

    August 24, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  47. Sam

    Why is it the Obama fan club will make excuses for everything he does, no matter what he does? I don't understand how you all have completely lost your will to think on your own. It's all the same talking points, over and over. i voted for him, and wish to God I hadn't! Won't happen again!

    September 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  48. Kevin

    The comments came from the most anti-Obama/anti-Democrat group spokesperson (Chairmperson of the RNC) and it is a ridiculous statement. When the President does anything it costs a lot of money. There are hundreds of people involved and it's the same for every president. Wake up, people! Someone mentioned that they could have driven which is just not possible. There are even more people involved when the President is driven in a car. They must stop all the traffic and it's a four hour drive from DC to New York. Are you kidding me?!

    September 4, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  49. Sharon

    Very evident here that unfortunately almost half the U.S. population did not vote for President Obama. This type of rhetoric so clearly illustrates the dumbing down of America. I despair of holding any objective dialog with all the ranting angry dumb people who foam at the mouth whenever an opportunity presents itself to criticize anyone who supports moderate intelligent actions. No one that I know who supports the Republican agenda has been able to discuss any of the issues intelligently, or courteously allow me to express my opinions. A very marked contrast to everyone I know who supports the Democratic agenda. Lord have mercy on us.

    September 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm |