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November 5th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

KTH: The $200 million myth about Obama's Asia trip

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - It's a story that originated from a single, unnamed sourced in India - but it quickly gained momentum, spreading like wildfire among critics of the Obama administration in the United States and eventually, the airwaves.

The claim: The United States will be "spending a whopping $200 million per day" on President Barack Obama's trip to Asia.

That's roughly the amount the federal government spends each day on the war in Afghanistan. The figure has been dismissed by the White House as "wildly inflated."

What's more, the claim doesn't appear to hold water.

The former chief of staff for George W. Bush told CNN's Anderson Cooper in a Thursday interview that it doesn't pass the "sniff test."

"It doesn't to me, but I think the White House is appropriate in saying they don't talk about what it costs for the president to travel," said Andrew Card. "We want our president to be safe wherever he goes. I can't imagine it would cost $200 million a day.

"If it costs anywhere close to that number, the president should be asking tough questions of the Defense Department and the Secret Service and the State Department. But he should also be paying attention to keeping his entourage as small as credibly possible and still do the job that he has to do for the country as he travels."

While the White House has not released specifics on the cost of the trip, citing security concerns, White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage has said, "It's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated."

Those numbers, according to Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, are: $200 million a day, $2 billion total, 34 diverted Navy ships, a 2,000-person presidential entourage, and 870 hotel rooms in India.

"And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel," Bachmann told CNN's "AC 360" Wednesday night.

Pressed by Cooper to back up her numbers, Bachmann said, "These are the numbers that are coming out in the press."

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