Meet Obama's 'Beast' of a Bus

Two new buses built from the ground up for Midwestern tour
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2011 4:57 PM CDT
President Barack Obama waves before boarding his bus in Cannon Falls, Minn., August 15, 2011, during his three-day bus tour in the Midwest centering on ways to grow the economy.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – This bus is Barackin', so don't bother knockin': President Obama is cruising the Midwest in a customized bus that is essentially a pumped-up version of his five-ton hulking limo, dubbed "the Beast." The bus, one of two ordered up by the Secret Service, sports bulletproof black windows, puncture-proof tires, five-inch thick doors, and its own oxygen supplies, reports NPR. "The president needs to get out in the country and meet with real folks in real places," said White House spokesman Jay Carney aboard Air Force One. "A plane this size is hard to get into small communities."

For three decades, whenever a president wanted a more folksy means of travel, the Secret Service would spend loads to lease buses and outfit them with state-of-the-art safety and communications features—only to later pay to have them returned to their standard form. With the new buses, the bigger problem is finding qualified drivers. "Agents will be taught to back up at very high rates of speed using just the mirrors on either side," says Ronald Kessler, author of In The President's Secret Service. "It really takes guts to do that."

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