The Washington Post

Obama flies ‘baby Air Force One’ to Florida events

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Was President Obama practicing what he preached Thursday?

That’s the question the White House traveling press corps had when they arrived at Andrews Air Force Base to accompany the president on a trip to south Florida, only to find the aircraft they have nicknamed “baby Air Force One” waiting for them at Andrews Air Force Base. The smaller of the two primary jets at Obama’s disposal is a Boeing 757, much smaller than the 747 that the president normally travels on.

On a day when Obama was to speak about his energy policies — and preach efficiency — at a time of rising gas prices, some wondered if he was making a symbolic point about cutting down on fuel and costs.

No, White House press secretary Jay Carney said. Asked about the reason for the small plane, Carney explained that the 747 was undergoing routine maintenance “that ran long.”

“How the president travels is determined by the Air Force and by the Secret Service,” Carney continued, when pressed on the matter. “And the issue here was maintenance that ran long on one of the 747s.”

The president actually has two 747s at his disposal, but the other one is in Seattle being refurbished and upgraded with new technology.

Perhaps the press was insistent because their quarters on the 757 were less comfortable: three to a row in coach class-style seats, rather than the usual first-class accommodations.

After his speech at the University of Miami and two fundraisers, Obama was scheduled to fly to Orlando for another fundraiser Thursday night before returning to Washington shortly after midnight.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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