GOP lawmaker: The Obamas use Air Force One as 'personal toy'

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Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) said Thursday morning that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are using Air Force One and other official aircraft as their "personal toys."


"I'm not suggesting ... that we compromise safety or security," Coble said on the House floor. "But the first family, it seems to me, treats Air Force One and related aircraft as their personal toys — a very expensive toy, I might add."

Coble's comments drew a warning from presiding officer Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) not to make improper references to the President.

"I will admit ... that Air Force One belongs to President Obama and his wife, but Air Force One also belongs to you and me, and to every taxpayer in America," Coble continued. "I simply ask the president and his wife to exercise more prudence and discipline regarding their aircraft activities.

"When the wheels of Air Force One are up, the meter is on, and I'm talking about a heap of taxpayer dollars."

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Coble said the latest estimates put the operation of Air Force One at $179,000 per hour, and said recent overseas trips by the Obamas have involved other costs, like backup planes, motor transport, security, various staffers, hotel charges and advance security teams.

Coble said Obama was the second most-traveled president of all time during his first term, and that in 2009, Obama traveled more than any other president.

"The plague of the soaring debt continues to bother us, and I respectfully request that President Obama and his wife direct more attention to our soaring debt and deficit and less time on Air Force One," he said.

Coble has complained before about the Obama's travel habits. In February, he said on the House floor that Obama and his wife use Air Force one "very casually," and said taxpayers would be "appreciative" if they reduced their travel.

Thursday morning, Coble also noted criticism of Obama for playing golf with Tiger Woods, but said, "the president's golfing is none of my business."