Fact check: Obama's new bus

WASHINGTON–President Obama is on his second bus tour on a new big $1.1 million bus, dubbed “Ground Force One,” and the subject of criticism from Republicans, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), because they claim the bus is Canadian. That is misleading because it does not tell the whole story. Today, Tuesday, in North Carolina, Obama made a reference to the bus in a speech–and noted that it was ordered by the Secret Service–not his staff.

The bus debuted in August during a Midwest Bus Tour, with the GOP slamming the bus for its supposed Canadian heritage. The bus actually is a U.S. and Canadian mix. I am reposting a fact check I did in August at a stop in Alpha, Ill.

ALPHA, Ill.–President Obama arrived at this bucolic spot for a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon in his new, $1.1 million sleek black bus, an imposing vehicle with mixed U.S. and Canadian heritage.

A charge by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus that Obama is running “around in his Canadian bus” is not accurate because it does not tell the whole story.

The new bus–a road version of Air Force One–was retrofitted by Hemphil Brothers Coach Company in Nashville, Tn., with the basic heavy duty shell purchased from Prevost, a divison of The Volvo group, a manufacturer of touring coaches with its corporate headquarters in Sainte-Claire, Quebec.

Prevost has a variety of U.S. operations, including a U.S. central order desk in Elgin, Ill., a city west of Chicago. In the U.S., Prevost also has parts and service centers in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Tennesse and California.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, the agency ordering the bus, told me in a telephone interview that Prevost was selected because the model was the only one “to our knowledge that had the payload capacity, ” to “handle the weight of the equipment we were going to put on it.”

Hemphill Brothers used U.S. contractors and parts, Donovan said, for the security and communications equipment and other items on the two buses the agency purchased. “Everything that is retrofitted was done in the U.S.,” he said.

The heavy duty motorcoach model was selected “based on our requirements to provide the most protection for the people who are going to use it.”

One of the ironies in the Republican complaints: the buses will probably be used for roadtrips by the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, who will be under the protection of the Secret Service.

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