- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2011

President Obama wants us to believe that his bus tour of three battleground states is an attempt to get to know Americans better. No one is falling for it.

The commander in chief kicked off his roadshow in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota on Monday. He’ll follow up with a visit in Iowa right after the GOP straw poll and a final stop in Illinois. The three-day excursion sounds a whole lot like a campaign swing through key 2012 states, but federal taxpayers - not the Obama campaign - are picking up the tab.

The White House is pretending the “economic bus tour” is part of the president’s official duties. Aboard Air Force One on the flight to the heartland, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “The fact is that the president is not engaged in a primary election, and he is doing what presidents do, which is go out in the country and engage with the American people, have discussions about the economy and other policy issues.”

The bus was supposedly necessary because rural areas can’t handle the president’s usual mode of travel. “A plane this size is hard to get into small communities and small airports,” explained Mr. Carney.

Elephants are up in arms. Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus fired back at what he called “Obama’s Debt-End Tour.” He told reporters at Mr. Obama’s first stop in Cannon Falls on Monday that, “We are not going to stand idly by while this president perpetrates this fraud of a bus tour while using taxpayer dollars to spin his failure to put America back to work.”

Hawkeye State Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn added, “The only difference between the GOP presidential campaign buses crisscrossing our state this summer and the president’s bus is the taxpayers are footing the bill for the president’s campaign swing in northeast Iowa.”

The RNC will air radio ads, web ads and call independent voters while Mr. Obama barrels though each state reminding the public of the damage he has done to the economy.

Just last week, the Obama administration approved job-killing fuel-economy mandates for trucks. Beginning in 2014, heavy vehicles - including buses - must live up to design standards set by the bureaucracy. The official regulatory impact analysis of the scheme predicted compliance costs of up to $47 billion.

When asked if the president’s blacked-out-window bus lived up to the new federal rules, a White House spokesman referred the question to the Secret Service. The presidential protection agency refused to give out any information on the capability of the vehicles.

Of course, a president is always vulnerable to attacks for using taxpayer resources for campaign activity as the lines are often blurred near election time. However, this case is clear: Candidates, not presidents, take bus tours. Plus, there sure isn’t any history of this president wanting to hobnob with middle America.

The Obama campaign is raising money hand-over-fist in its drive to get $1 billion in the bank for an uphill re-election bid. It can afford to reimburse the public for this expensive stunt.

It’s obvious Mr. Obama remains oblivious to the economic plight of ordinary Americans. After just three days in the rural midwest, Mr. Obama will vacation on Martha’s Vineyard with his real friends: wealthy liberals.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.