In one of the more noteworthy exchanges in Monday's "fiscal responsibility summit," President Obama and his Republican campaign rival John McCain agreed that new White House helicopters seemed like a waste of money.
Railing against cost overruns in Pentagon procurement, McCain pointed out that the new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters being built to replace the existing 30-year-old copters will cost $11.2 billion total -- nearly double their original budget.
"Your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One. I don't think there is any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money," McCain told Obama in what resembled prime minister's question time in Britain, where members of the opposition in Parliament get to directly question the prime minister each week.
"It is an example of the procurement process gone amok, and we're going to have to fix it," Obama agreed, adding that he had already talked to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates about reviewing the program and its ballooning costs.
Joking about the issue, Obama said the old helicopters seemed fine, though noting he had never had a helicopter before and "maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it."
This morning, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN that Obama is talking to Gates about officially putting the helicopter program on hold.
"The president talked to the secretary of defense, and I think as he said yesterday to Sen. (John) McCain, we don't need any new helicopters at the White House," Gibbs said on CNN's "American Morning."
Asked if that meant the order was being put on hold, Gibbs said: "That's exactly what he talked to the secretary about."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.