Who paid for President Obama's Atlanta campaign visit?

6:54 PM, Jun 26, 2012   |    comments
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President Barack Obama steps off of Air Force One at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta Tuesday morning.

ATLANTA -- Since President Obama's trip to Atlanta on Tuesday was strictly a political fundraising event, his campaign told 11Alive News it and the Democratic National Committee will reimburse the taxpayers.

But that pay back will only cover part of the cost of operating one of the world's most impressive and expensive airplanes.

And it's always been that way, no matter who's president.

It takes about $180,000 an hour to operate the flying White House and command post known as Air Force One.

That rate is what the President has to repay when it's used for partisan political purposes.

But a recent study by the Associated Press showed it doesn't come close to covering the actual expense, especially the cost of support and security staff, who travel with the President no matter what the reason.

Based on a charter rate set by the Federal Election Commission, President Obama has repaid $1.5-million for political trips since 2010 so far.

That compares to only $1.3-million repaid by his predecessor, George W. Bush, during his 2004 re-election campaign.

But none of that covers the cost to local governments for their extra security.

There were plenty of Atlanta Police Officers involved in the President's visit as Mayor Kasim Reed was the first to greet him when he arrived.

So far, Mayor Reed's office has not replied to our request for what the city spent and whether any of it will be repaid by the Obama Re-election Campaign.

Also greeting the President was Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves, who said he came as a private supporter.

When asked about any costs to Georgia's largest county, Eaves said, "I don't have a concern about it."

A new book due out in July, called "The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign" by Brendan Doherty, says Barack Obama has had more campaign fundraisers than all other Presidents combined since Richard Nixon.

The Associate Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy calculates that President Obama has held 124 fundraisers as of last month, compared to a total of only 94 by President's Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Georgia Republican Party Chair Sue Everhart released a statement critical of the President's Atlanta fundraising visit, calling him the "Campaigner-In-Chief".

But criticism of a President for using the power of Air Force One on campaign trips is traditional from both parties when they don't hold the White House.

The bottom line is that the most magnificent airplane in the world for a head of state is definitely an advantage for an incumbent, no matter who that president is.

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