- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford insists he has dried out, vows sobriety test
- Greenpeace video warns that climate change is wrecking Santa’s home
- Herman Cain profiled in ‘Political Power’ comic book
- Hagel renews Qatar defense pact despite differences over Iran, Syria
- Fire departments fear Obamacare will gut volunteer ranks
- Rep. Alan Grayson loses $18M in stock scheme
- Christmas secularists get 6-foot beer-can Festivus pole at Florida Statehouse
- George Zimmerman’s girlfriend flips on assault: Let ‘my boyfriend’ go
- Lululemon Athletica chairman quits after firestorm over his fat-thighs comment
- CBS’ beleaguered Lara Logan gets a cheerleader — Dan Rather
Cost of Obama’s Africa trip under fire, overshadows economic, democracy focus
With President Obama set to leave for a weeklong stay in Africa, the goals of his trip — boosting economic partnerships and engagement with the U.S. and promoting democratic development in African nations — are in danger of being overshadowed.
In the days before his departure on Wednesday, much of the attention in Washington has focused instead on the high cost of the trip, estimated to be somewhere between $60 million and $100 million.
The cost is largely due to the large security force that will travel with the first family.
The trip’s price tag isn’t the only sideshow. Calls for Mr. Obama’s arrest from the Muslim Lawyers Association, a group based in Johannesburg, which objects to the administration’s drone program, also are garnering attention.
“I don’t think it’s in the U.S. interest for the United States to step aside and cede any potential for our country because we don’t want to move forward with presidential travel,” said Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser, in a conference call with reporters on Friday. “There’s nothing that can make an impact more in terms of our foreign policy and our economic and security interests than the president of the United States coming” to Africa.
The White House also brushed aside the calls for Mr. Obama’s arrest, with Mr. Rhodes saying that counterterrorism and drone strikes won’t be specific topics of discussion during the president’s time in South Africa.
He did, however, stress that “on the continent, counterterrorism is an important priority for the United States.”
Mr. Bush, whose global health initiative is heavily focused on Africa, will go with his wife first to Zambia to visit a health center.
The White House late last week touted that event when releasing the Obamas’ public schedule. Their daughters, Sasha and Malia, also will be on the trip.
But in Washington, some lawmakers believe the administration is spending far too much money on the excursion while at the same time bemoaning the “sequester” budget cuts, which resulted in the cancellation of public White House tours.
Security for the trip reportedly will involve military cargo planes airlifting 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines, and three trucks to carry bulletproof glass to cover the windows where the president and his family will stay.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
- White House PR blitz hits states that rejected Medicaid expansion
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- Obama, first lady will attend Mandela memorial services
- Obama: Nelson Mandela now 'belongs to the ages'
- Obama lived with Uncle Onyango Obama in the 1980s, White House admits
Latest Blog Entries
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama shakes hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity
- Oregon fails to sign up single person on health care website as states struggle
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- George Zimmermans girlfriend flips on assault: Let my boyfriend go
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Notes from a running nerd: musings and more on all things running.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow