AIN Blog: Election 2012: Nonsense in the Air

 - March 5, 2012, 9:46 AM
John F. Kennedy Jr.
Presidential candidates should be making the most of their time by using business aircraft.

Washington, D.C.–President Obama missed a major fundraising event yesterday due to cancellation of his JetBlue flight. The President had arrived on time at Washington National Airport in a Hertz rental cara subcompact, according to his press secretaryand had been whisked through security. But then he spent two hours checking his bags and signing autographs while waiting to board his flight, only to learn that it had been delayed andan hour latercanceled entirely. Having already returned his rental car, the President called the First Lady for a ride back to the White House.

Obama’s aborted trip came only two days after Republican contender Mitt Romney missed a connecting flight in Charlotte, N.C., because he’d sat on a Newark runway in a Continental jet for three hours. Then, when he finally reached Memphis (still 150 miles from the site of his scheduled speech) he learned that the Budget Rent-a-Car he’d reserved had been reassignedand that the airline had lost his luggage. He arrived at his campaign rally six hours after all his supporters had left. Continental subsequently apologized for its delay by awarding double frequent-flier miles to Romney and his fellow passengers.

Silly? Absolutely. But we might well be reading such stories if presidential candidates were to start relying on public transportation. Is there really anyone who thinks that would be a productive use of time for politicians intent on quickly convincing tens of millions of people in 50 states to vote for them?

Apparently so. Because if you Google virtually any presidential candidate’s name and the words “business jet,” you’ll come up with reports suggesting that they’re somehow misbehaving by flying privately. “Mitt Romney spent $125,000 on private jetsdespite a pledge to scale back on luxury travel,” according to one story. Ron Paul “has made fiscal conservatism his hallmark” but uses a private jet, said another. There’s even an MSNBC Web page that invites visitors to “take a look through our gallery to find out which big-name lawmakers have encountered private jet troubles.”

And it’s not just the media doing the finger pointing. At a campaign event in Amherst, N.H., Rick Santorumwho has been known to fly privately himselfheard an airplane overhead and took the opportunity to portray Mitt Romney as a candidate who lacks the common touch. “Probably Romney flying in,” Santorum told the crowd as the airplane passed. “Probably a private plane.”

Isn’t it time we stop all this nonsense and recognize that it’s campaigning via airliner, not via private jet, that would represent a misuse of funds?

If we want the candidates to cut expenses, a much better idea would be to push for a moratorium on their frequently mindless and fact-free TV attack ads. Before the last presidential election, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, candidates spent more than $450 million on television advertising in the period from April 3 to Nov. 5, 2008. And those ads didn’t transport anybody to anywhereexcept maybe to medicine cabinets for aspirin.


Clever and right on the mark. Thanks, Jeff

I think it's perfectly fine for cadidates to use private jets....that is why their were invented: to save time and aggravation. My disagreement with the idea is when Obama could use a government Lear or even a Gulfstream to minimize the expense, instead of a $100,000/hr 747.

Any anyone else ever used a taxpayer-funded 747 to fly DC-NY for a date with his wife?...Talk about abuse and hypocrisy on the part of one who claim to soooo concerned with the environment.

I totally agree. People don't realize flying private is like you taking a taxi for time sensitive matters instead of public transportation. (well, let's say limo service realistically). Don't people want a president to choose the quickest option to take care of important matters that affect their life? Do they want their favorite candidate to keep loosing his supporters by missing flights? I don't.

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