Obama’s Date Night on Broadway

May 31, 2009

USA/Campaigning for the White House last year, Barack Obama promised his wife, Michelle, he would take her to a Broadway show when he won. Four months after becoming president, Obama did just that on Saturday. 

The Obamas flew to New York for dinner in Greenwich Village and a Broadway play. 

“I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

The Obamas did not travel to New York in the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet used as Air Force One. They flew in a smaller Gulfstream 500 plane to JFK airport, before hopping into Manhattan on the Marine One helicopter.

A casual Obama wore a dark business suit with no tie, Michelle a black cocktail dress dress, her famous arms bared, and black high-heel shoes.

They dined at the Blue Hill restaurant in Washington Square and later saw the play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson at the Belasco Theater.

Their motorcade’s path to the theater was lined with people waving, shouting greetings and taking photographs.

Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (The Obamas board a small jet at Andrews Air Force Base)

37 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

We pay him a salary, don’t we? If he wants to take his wife out on a date, he should use his own money. It’s unseemly for him to use taxpayer money to take his wife on a date, on Airforce One, to New York. They could have gone out in D.C. Personally, I resent it. I certainly can’t afford to do anything like that, and my salary is not much less than his. Must be nice to have an unlimited entertainment fund. Funded by taxpayers. Trips funded by taxpayers should have some political purpose.

Posted by mbs | Report as abusive

I see nothing wrong with the president having as a date night with his wife. It not like a president has never done it before, it just was not brought to the publics attention. I say you go Obama! You have my respect for keeping a promise to your wif!

Posted by Debbie | Report as abusive

What a stinking waste of our tax dollars.

Posted by Donna West | Report as abusive

I think its great that the President keeps a promise
to his wife to take her to dinner and a Broadway show.
It is really petty of the Republican National Committee
to complain about it. I think we the taxpayers are getting
our money’s worth from this president and he and Michelle
deserve a little breather. Besides, Broadway is suffering
from the recession and this will no doubt cause a welcome
jump in ticket sales.

Posted by Ginny Zahava | Report as abusive

How petty and small can the GOP get. After 8 years of Regan & 8 years of W they have the nerve to complain when the new President takes one night off. After each of their guys set records for the number of vacation days they spent on their so called “ranches”.

Posted by Bob C | Report as abusive

Disgraceful. People are losing homes & jobs. If he’s not going on dates, he’s ordering cheeseburgers or playing golf or giving ridiculous speeches to Hollywood. Our President of the United States is the most pompous, arrogant, self loathing fool. We have a Presidential Box Seats in the Kennedy Center less than 4 miles from the White House….but Nooooooooo he must “jet” off to NYC.
INSANE. I WANT MY VOTE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Cheryl | Report as abusive

nyc welcomes the president and first lady. given the load of rubbish heaped upon him by the former GOP “leadership”, they well deserve a night on the town, and we’re glad it’s ours! naysayers, have a sanka!

Posted by thatgirlinnewyork | Report as abusive

How many people complaining about Obama’s trip complained about Bush’s trips to the “Western White House” at his ranch in Crawford or Camp David? He spent over two and a half years at these places on multiple trips. He took 149 trips to Camp David and 77 trips to Crawford totaling over 900 days. One trip to New York in a small Gulfstream jet is OK by me.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Good for the President! He knows that he is also a married man that should keep promises to his wife if he wants to stay happily married.

Maybe if the Republicans spent more time with their wives they wouldn’t be so grumpy all the time!

Posted by Sarah | Report as abusive

I just think it’s inappropriate and arrogant, while GM is on the verge of bankruptcy, and the country is being asked to tighten it’s belt, that the POTUS is treating himself to a night out on the town on the taxpayer’s dime.

Posted by marco | Report as abusive

Who do these lunatics paid for Boy George’s trips to his ranchette in Texas?

Posted by DPeterson | Report as abusive

I don’t mind the President going on a date night every now and then. But do it in Washington on your own dime. Flying to New York on tax payers money is arrogant and a slap in the face to the average citizen who can’t even afford to take his kids to I-HOP because they need to cut back. Also, fine you want to keep you promise to your wife. I wish he would keep his promises to the American public. What happend to ending the War in Iraq, the closing of Gitmo, National healthcare, ending the recession, the bailout was supposed to save and create jobs?

I’m an objective independent but this blind love affair with either the GOP or the Democrats is going to be this countries downfall. 2012, we as Americans need to wake up and vote for the next President based on their resume NOT on the bases of the individuals game show host smile or whether the First Lady looks good in a sleeveless night gown! Looks like we are getting what we voted for. I’m starting to realize this President cares more for his public image rather than doing the right thing that would benefit the American people. Well, it’s early there’s still HOPE?? How ironic!

Posted by M | Report as abusive

He certainly lives up to his motto of ‘wealth redistribution’ by having the taxpayer foot the bill for his “romantic” nightout with his “fashionable” wife.

I can see the need of the Secret Service Agent for security purpose, but two Jets for a team of staff and reporters to be sent along? for what purpose? Is it an night out for presidential duty? No honey, was nothing but the sort of publicity only some shallow celebrities would crave (but at least those celebrities pay out of their own pocket).

The American people ought to voice their objections over such wasteful self-serving personal activities from Obama. Who knows what else Obama promised his wife before, now and the future, no even himself has a clue -but surely he will just make it up along the way, why not, someone else is paying for the promises.

Posted by Juliana | Report as abusive

One trip to NYC compared to Bush’s extended trips to Crawford seems OK to me.
Where you people who are complaining now when Bush was flying to Texas 77 times during his Presidency? Bush took over 900 days off during his eight years, almost a third of his days in office. Obama didn’t even take Air Force One which I assure you uses more fuel than the Gulfstream they did take to NY.
The Obama’s deserve a night out as much as anybody and it’s not like he can just walk out the front door of the White House and hail a cab.
Seriously, find something else to whine about, it’s just stupid.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

A promise kept. The first couple looked great and are clearly in love. It’s refreshing to see a couple that is not afraid to show how much they love each other and their family. Such loyalty is a trait that many of us — especially that wife cheating John McCain — lack. If you have a problem with this then you really need to re-evaluate where life is taking you. Lol at the thought of how the GOP never complained about village idiot dubyah’s numerous trips to the ranch but have the audacity to complain now. By the way…do you think President Obama should buy a ticket on commercial air and put national security at risk? Think people…think.

Posted by wps | Report as abusive

All work and no play makes Prez a dull boy.

I’m glad he kept his promise to his wife, he shared a house with Michelle looong before the White House. He knows how to keep her happy. All these negative comments are basically from bitter Republicans who are still upset at his victory. If they really need something to do, they can research the record breaking vacations of the Bush administration to Crawford and Camp David which is estimated at around 40% time off.

Brother President is in the news daily with a new announcement or action, I remember there were times when it seemed like the country was on auto-pilot (IN THE MIDST OF A WAR NO LESS!!!!) while Dubya was playing cowboys and indians in Texas!!!! Please – We pay him a salary and he can have a night out GEEEZ.

At least he’s keeping promises, you right wing critics need to pick that concept apart!!

Sidebar – If they kept their wives happy, they wouldn’t end up in airport bathrooms tapping the toes of undercover cops – but thats another story

GO SEE “OUTRAGE” its a very good movie!!

I’m Sexcess1 and I approve this message.

Think it’s great he took his wife on a date, but did it have to be on my dime?????

Posted by maggie mae | Report as abusive

Many of the expenses incurred by this trip are due to the need for heightened security and efficient time use because of their jobs, therefore I think the use of government funds is reasonable.

Posted by none givin | Report as abusive

Does someone here really believe that the President and his wife bought their tickets and dinner “at taxpayers dime”? He DOES have his own salary, unless someone here forgot.

Unless the above complainers also vocally complained when previous president flew on Airforce One (colossal 4-engine, kerosene-guzzling Boeing 747) to his ranch across the continent practically once a MONTH for EIGHT years, they have absolutely NO RIGHT to complain when Obama takes his wife about 250 miles north in a small twin jet. Even if he continues to do it once every four months, he won’t eclipse the record set by his predecessor for the next 120 years.

Posted by P. Vasic | Report as abusive

Let them eat cake1 Barack and Michelle used their newly -found priveleges to use taxpayer money to fly to Mew York for a date night. Because of his policiies America is 2 trillion dollars in debt and counting.(No, this is not Bush’s debt, President Obama owns this one!) And all this during a recession with thousands of Americans fighting to put food on their tables, because they’ve lost their jobs! How about doing their share to cut the budget by going to the theater locally, instead of spending 1 million dollars (a conservative estimate) for a date night. Way to go! This is really “Change we can believe in!”

Posted by Debbie | Report as abusive

OBAMA is trying u people should leave him alone.Alot of damage has been done to the entire ecomomy by bush and he is trying and doing is best to restore it.If hes taking the wife out i dont see any tin wroung with that, afterall he is a human being.you people should leave if alone the man is trying ok.

We all know what kind of a president bush was, pretty much clueless and he has left a legacy of financial destruction, deceit, murder of our soldiers and other nationalities in two wars. Furthermore, he also managed to have left us with the worst and costliest deficits and pretty much the elimination of the Middle Class. All of sudden we have a snake such as cheney coming out of hiding in order to protect his own slivery skin because no one else would, not even his own president who was too ignorant to understand the damage being caused by such stupidity in relation to the legacy left by his presidency. We had the taxes of the rich constantly cut and expenditures increased and at the same time covering up the actual cost of the wars by not even including it within the national budget/debt. All in all, we have been left with such seismic catastrophes that most Americans such as myself not only have lost everything but, cannot even find a job for over a year now. Yes, I was one of the ones that voted for obama not because he was the best choice but, because he was the only choice between an old fool and hopefully someone that would stand against special interest. Unfortunately this has not been so and we are seeing everyday how much of a payback he has yet to meet. This is because when the campaign costs to elect a President has reached over two billion dollars, an elected President will have too many players that will be knocking on the doors which they are and will continue to do so therefore, a trip to NY is not even worth mentioning as others have pointed out. bush was not even in Washington for a large duration once the time away at his ranch and Camp David have been accumulated and look what happened. Maybe this was for the best because I am not sure but, he could have destroyed even more by staying in Washington. Now, we have a Supreme Court nomination that is going to weaken our Country and Constitution therefore, I hope that the Republicans can come to their senses by eliminating a moron such as rush-dumbo as a speaker for the Republican Party and having yet another moron as chairman. The only solution for the future of our Great Nation that I see is an influential third Independent Party to battle the ridiculous and corrupt two party system. We have already witnessed the evolution of such a movement in American Politics, individuals such as myself are looking for a true leader that is able to pick up the gauntlet in order to advance the greatness of our nation and not simply sellout our children’s future to the top bidder. In accordance, I am by no means advocating support for such a crook as lieberman who unfortunately has labeled himself as an Independent. His form of Independence is which way the wind blows. Every decade or so, we are simply bouncing back and forth from a certain set of idiots to another set of idiots with no light at the end of the tunnel. May God have mercy on our Great Country and God Bless America.

Posted by wordcitizen09 | Report as abusive

Obama’s little excursion cost us millions of dollars. Why does he keep preaching to us that we must make sacrifices? I guess he means everyone except himself. Nice going as$wipe.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

I am with you on this one Cheryl. Looks like we were “hood winked” again.

Posted by whynot | Report as abusive

He is spending the $$ before they become worthless piece of toilet paper and so should you….

Posted by matt | Report as abusive

I’m glad the President went to NY; great for the theater, dining, and the city! Go President Obama excuse the haters that enable the previous administration in their bad behavior. We call them hypocrites! We love the OBAMA’S!

Posted by Rosy11 | Report as abusive

I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself
-Ronald Reagan

Obama is turning out to be more of a celebrity then a president.

Dear wordcitizen09,

Are you aware Obama has sent thousands of troops to Afghanistan? So, according to your logic, Obama now is responsible for the murder of soldiers and people of other nations? Right???

Posted by bill wyer | Report as abusive

Message from old Europe. Guys, we all know that your economy (and by the way the whole world) has problems but your President is working his a*s out to solve them for us and it seems to be working. Give him a break and allow him a night out a night out with his wife. You want a President who occasionally is allowed to remember that he is just another human being like you and not a Jedi knight.

Posted by George Z | Report as abusive

double-standard?? “Critics on the Left decry President’s taxpayer funded travels and fundraising?”

Dear Bill Wyer, yes, I do because it is a no win situation. Just look at history, neither the British nor the Russians could fix the mess in Afghanistan and they did not have to deal with a huge mess in Pakistan which has access to nuclear weapons. Just because Obama inherited the mess from an idiot such as bush, this does not mean that it was right to continue and expand the fight in Afghanistan thus, any casualties of American lives could be considered as murder.

Posted by worldcitizen09 | Report as abusive

Dear Bill Wyer,

Actually, I do not at this time Bill and the reason for that is simple. Although, the war in Afghanistan was unleashed on the Taliban after the horrifying events of 9/11, we could have dealt with the Taliban by pursuing other avenues. Unfortunately, we had a deceitful president in the Oval Office that started two wars with one war explicitly based on fabricated intelligence. In accordance, we had one of our most distinguished generals go in front of the world at the United Nations and make the case for war, simply based on lies and by doing so, he became one of the most underutilized Secretaries of State in American history. We pertain the most powerful military in the world and no one even comes close because we are the sole Super Power however, by being bogged down in two wars with no attainable mission at hand, we are simply sacrificing our soldiers on the battle field. What have we achieved in either Iraq or Afghanistan? We have achieved nothing, just a tremendous cost both with lives and funds. By looking at the history of Afghanistan, we should have learned from both the British and Russians that a win in Afghanistan is impossible. I do not believe in wars because one may be able to take over a land but, you will never take over the mind of the people based on war and that is what we are fighting in the region, an ideology. Both the British and the Russians did not have to worry about a nuclear armed Pakistan and that is why President Obama had no choice but, to expand the war in Afghanistan in order to attempt maintaining stability within the region. We should have never gone into Afghanistan or Iraq but, what we should have done was to maintain strategic aerial attacks on the enemy. We did this after the first Gulf War by maintaining a no fly zone in both Northern and Southern Iraq thus, keeping Sadam in check and please do not forget that our own government helped and supported both the Taliban against the Russians in Afghanistan and Sadam in the war against Iran therefore, in a way we are responsible for the enemy to come into power.

Posted by worldcitizen09 | Report as abusive

Excuse me, Do those of you who applaud this little outing by the Obamas recognize that this country is buried in debt? Are you living in a state of complete denial? Condoning this is a perfect example of “liberal blindness” a disease that has infested this nation comparable to Swine flu only worse.
You’ll have to do better than Bush bashing to justify spending taxpayer money for this unnecessary exploit. I’ve been to Washington, there are very nice places to go on a date which would eliminate the expense of more than an estimated quarter of a million plus in taxpayer money, money we don’t have. Remember? Last week Obama said “We’re (The US) out of money”!

This folly is a slap in the face of the American people. Those who are struggling to pay bills, find any kind of work to keep their families fed. clothed, pay medical bills are surely very, very angry. I am.
I question what moral standards the “first couple” live by.
To me this is the ultimate example of self-interest. Talk about narcissistic behavior. Their message to the American People? To paraphrase a well known line in Gone with the Wind, “Frankly my dears We don’t really give a damn”.

Posted by Jeannie | Report as abusive

Jeannie,

I could not agree with you more about the outing but, in comparison to the big picture, this is a drop in the bucket. Present government has placed us in so much debt that our children will be responsible for many generations to come. This is only an extension of the corruption of the bush era. Personally, I have been out of work for over a year and half and pretty much have lost everything and we lived well off however, I have not been able to find work and if it wasn’t for my family we would be homeless therefore, please do not preach the hard times to me because my family and I are living the nightmare first hand while obama goes to NY on tax payer money. Don’t forget bush was even more useless therefore, it is not bush bashing but, bashing of corruption and waist which is still continuing with the new administration. Just look at the news now, GM is out and we will never see that money as tax payers ($70B so far), the unions got a big chunk because they supported obama and now the Chinese are buying the Hummer division, just announced. We have sold off the manufacturing sector to pretty much the Chinese, the IT sector to the Indians and so forth and only a few are making billions in the middle of this nightmare for most of us. Remember, the financial meltdown, guess who is making money now? What about all of the Americans to include my family that have lost their homes and more to come? The ridiculous program to attempt to salvage home owners in trouble, what happened to that? I can go on and on? Upon the government taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, our government has become the biggest land lord in the world. Just think about it, could all of this have been planned? As Arsenio Hall use to say, “things that make you go Hmm”

Posted by worldcitizen09 | Report as abusive

Let’s get real about the “high cost” of the Obama outing.
Marine One costs us money whether it flys or not; only the fuel is extra. The security men are on the federal payroll no matter if they go to New York or stay at home. OK, I guess the hotel was extra. Most of that “high cost” is an exercise in “cost assignment” as practiced by the accountants, and is a subset of the base cost to maintain a president. Am I right? If this excursion helps our President keep his sanity in these crazy times, then I am all for it.

Obama is the worst hypocrite since Woodrow Wilson. This guy slams Las Vegas, telling people they should not spend money there. Then he turns around and does the exact opposite thing with an extravagant trip to New York. This guy says everyone is going to have to suck up the economic down turn and then he uses an air wing to take his wife for an expensive jaunt to New York. Everyone is sucking up the economic down turn but Obama. The Democrats criticized Sara Palin for wearing expensive clothing but praise Obama for flaunting wealth in the face of every American that is out of work plus those paying taxes for this disgusting display of arrogance. There is something in play here; we supposedly elected a president, not a king.

Posted by Alpha_Blogger | Report as abusive

Here is the real story from an Air Force Colonel…

Subject: The Date

First, let me say that I’ve moved three presidents up to now and I’ve seen incredible waste. But, the “new” guy really takes the cake. I don’t have an issue with the President promising his wife dinner and a show or that he even takes his wife out.

But, when I saw the news say that the date cost $24,000, here’s what you DON’T know.

Three days before “dinner” a C-17 flew Marines and the helicopter maintenance equipment to JFK Airport .
The day before “dinner” I flew the USSS and the motorcade to JFK Airport

Our crew of 5 spent two days and nights at the Hilton in Times Square .. My hotel bill: $621.66 plus $64 a day in per diem. The USSS guys were at a different Hilton in NYC, so figure that cost another $14,000 (or so) plus per diem. The Marines had to have cost as much and were there four days, so figure another $55,000 plus per diem (for 44 Marines).

We were supposed to fly the motorcade back and go home, but the Air Force was so short C-17′s that we were re-tasked to take the motorcade back, return to JFK and take the helicopter back to Quantico

When we got back to JFK, while the pilot was turning the plane around to park, he noticed a rotor blade sticking out of the hangar where the helicopter was parked and informed me that either it wasn’t ready to transport or it was flying home. After shutting down I walked over to the hangar and to my surprise I find FIVE helicopters, not ONE.

We’re obviously not transporting five big helicopters. I went and talked to the Marines guarding the “fleet” and found that they were flying all five helicopters home and we were only transporting the Marines and the maintenance equipment. After talking to the Marine(s) in charge, I was told that the White House requested FIVE helicopters. The Marines told me that they spent all morning trying to figure out how much it cost them to come and said they figured it cost them $140,000 to stay there (I don’t know where they came up with that)and the trip’s total had to be bout $1,000,000.

We heard that the President didn’t use Air Force One (the 747) so I asked if he came in on one of the 757′s. I was told that he came in on THREE Air Force Lear jets. So, date night consisted of: 2 C-17′s flying three missions, 3 Lear jets, 5 Helicopters, Presidential Motorcade, 44 Marines, more than 20 USSS personnel on our plane. Who knows what it cost the NYPD and NY Port Authority (at the airport) in overtime.

These are the same people that chastised the automobile CEO’s for using their aircraft. It further proves that the media only use the facts that make the President look good and hide any facts that will detract from his persona..

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive